I'm thinking of retiring from my job and transitioning to some role, as yet unknown, in the K-12 space. I've been giving some thought to what being a successful educator involves.
There's more to teaching than leading students to learning. When I think back on all the teachers I've had in my life the one or two whose names and faces I can remember had these attributes in common:
- Passion for what they did
- Adept at painting a mental image in my head of how I would be able to use what I was learning
- Almost tangible storytelling ability
At some level they were able to hear the uncertainty of my youth and get me excited about possibilities.
My take is that relying on leadership ability most of all, waving a flag and expecting learners to follow you, results in hoarse throats and missed opportunities.
The best teacher I ever had, CDB, had these posters on her desk. One, from Thoreau I believe, said something about listening to the beat of a different drummer.
As I went on, and continue in, my development journey each new learning experience is a step towards the unknown. This isn't a bad thing. It's curiosity manifest.
A successful teacher creates an ecology for learning where anything is possible given the constraints we all have. Leadership ability is at best secondary.