Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Homage to the End of Winter", oil on canvas, by Halima Washington


     I spent a good part of this morning trying to create curriculum for the final two months of the year, and all I seemed to create was an abundance of frustration. I mentally struggled and fought at my desk for several hours, as though making lesson plans was like building a house. I hammered away at ideas, nailed stray thoughts together, sawed ideas into pieces, and in the end, all I produced was a strong feeling of failure. At noon I had no better idea what to do with my scholars in April and May than I had when I started this hard labor several hours earlier.

     As I thought about it over lunch, I realized that I had been thinking that creating good lessons was like hammering a building together, whereas it’s really more like helping a good garden grow. A teacher is way more like a gardener than a construction worker. There’s much more patient waiting involved than forceful fabricating and assembling. Good lesson plans grow, and in order to grow, they have to be gently cared for by a teacher who is willing to wait. I should have done more waiting this morning – more waiting for the ideas to quietly germinate instead of wildly thrashing around in my mind in the hope that a decent lesson could be thrown together. Excellent teaching is never thrown together. The only way it ever appears in a classroom is through a natural growth process. The teacher has to uncomplainingly watch and listen, and soon the ideas, sure enough, will push their way up in his mind like sprouts in the spring.   


No comments: