Day 157, Wednesday, June 3, 2009
This year I feel good about something that, years ago, would have troubled me. It’s increasingly clear to me that the students are more relaxed, perhaps even more comfortable, in the company of the younger, more energetic teachers than they are with me. They obviously gravitate to the teachers who joke with them and make their classes exciting and sometimes dramatic. The kids, given a choice between quiet and rather staid Mr. Salsich and a younger, more vibrant, more astonishing teacher, will pick the latter. In the ‘old days’ of my teaching, this would have concerned me. I would have felt left out, scorned, and bedraggled. I would have done a good share of pouting – wondering why the kids didn’t ‘like’ me, etc. etc. Teaching was a personal thing back then – an ongoing endeavor to see how ‘popular’ I could become with the students. Now, it’s very different. It may sound odd, but teaching has become a completely impersonal enterprise for me, in the sense that it’s no longer about ‘me’ as a person. I’ve worked hard to let my ego slowly fade away and die, at least in my teaching, and it’s brought me – and hopefully my scholars – many blessings. Now, in fact, I actually give a silent cheer when I see the students having fun with the more effervescent teachers. I’m happy for them (both kids and teachers), and I’m happy for myself, because it allows me and my annoying ego to slip further into the background. The farther away ‘I’ get in my classroom, the better the teaching becomes. When ‘Mr. Salsich’ disappears, the scholars can come to where they belong – the foreground, the dais, center-stage. With the presence of the young and lively teachers, that’s happening more and more. The teacher in Room 2 is getting quieter, more modest, more concealed –- and that’s good for both teaching and learning.