Sunday, April 24, 2016

Teacher Metaphor

     On this blustery day, I return to the reflective teacher challenge that was only supposed to take a month. I'll be lucky to finish these off before the end of school. At any rate, today's challenge is to come up with a metaphor (or a simile) for a teacher. I'm not sure I can arrive at just one, so here are my takes on what a teacher is metaphorically.
     A teacher is a coach. This overused statement is tired but true. Teachers give students strategies to learn, coach how to learn, and allow students to get into the game by helping them develop their skills. A good coach doesn't always see the limitations of players but rather creates a game plan that accentuates their skills to lead them to success. In the same way, a good teacher coaches kids to use the skills they have to win at learning. No one likes to always lose, yet some of our students do just that every day in school. They never experience the "thrill of victory" (mastering a skill) only the "agony of defeat." Good coaches know how to bring out the strengths of their players and know how to set their players up for victories. Teachers, who are strong in their craft, do the same for students.
     Another term that came to mind was a teacher is a juggler. Look in any classroom of good teachers and you'll see multiple things going on one after the other. Yes, there are planned lessons that teachers follow, but what about the days when real learning is taking place that's not in the lesson plan? A discussion develops that leads to a plan of action by students which they implement. Teachers have to be able to keep one thing in the air while knowing how to toss the rest of their day in such a way that reflects authentic learning. Jugglers were the court jesters in days gone by so they needed a strong sense of humor to keep everyone happy. Not much has changed today. Good teachers have the ability to laugh at themselves and keep their sense of humor even in the most tense situations.
     The final thought that hit my mind is that a teacher is a tour guide. I was thinking guide but "tour" just slipped in front as I was formulating my thoughts. Why a tour guide? My thoughts drifted to my travels and interactions with tour guides. These knowledgeable people showed me the "map" through whatever I was seeing and filled me with information pertinent to the topic as well as ancillary thoughts, too. I always came away with more questions than when I began and couldn't wait to research on my own to learn more. In a way, that's a teacher. We should be knowledgeable about our content and so engaging in our delivery that students must research further to answer all the questions they ran out of time to ask. When thinking of the tour guide, they are always funny and do a great job of relaying information to the crowd in a non-academic way.
     So there are my three metaphors for the prompt "A teacher is..." Sports has always had a special place in my heart, so for me, I choose to be  a coach. A nice balance between instruction and encouragement while helping students to develop their game plan in life. Coaches probably had the biggest impact on my life, setting an example for how to be effective in this role. So find a metaphor for a teacher, think about it and write about it. Then be that metaphor for your students. You never know, it could make all the difference.

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