Saturday, August 26, 2006
ON TEACHING: A Good Fit
Lately, I’ve been mulling over the word “fit”, discovering different ways that it “fits” with my work as a teacher. The first definition given in one dictionary is to be the proper size and shape for someone, as in: “These shoes fit me.” It’s interesting to think of my English class as being like a properly fitting pair of shoes. It’s a wonderful feeling to slip on shoes in a store and, because of the comfort you feel as you test them out, instantly know that they fit, and perhaps I can bring that kind of feeling to my students. “Here”, I can say to them, “try on this lesson today. I have a feeling it will fit beautifully.” Of course, I have to be alert to the possibility that the lessons might not fit some of the students, in which case I’ll have to make use of the second definition of “fit”: To cause to be the proper shape and size, as in “The tailor fitted the pants by shortening them.” I guess I’ll have to be sort of a tailor-teacher – one who constantly takes his lessons into the back room and alters, cuts, styles, and shapes them until all the students have a good fit. After all, a student who is taking an ill-fitting English class is about as uncomfortable as a person wearing pants two sizes two small. A third definition is: To equip or outfit, as in “fit out a ship”, and this definition applies particularly to what I’ve been doing these last few weeks. I’ve spent long hours at school “fitting out” the good ship of my classroom for the long nine-month voyage ahead. I’ve laid in supplies and carefully arranged everything so that our journey will be safe and profitable. I’m the captain of this sturdy ship, and I must make certain it is properly equipped for the long classes ahead.