When you chose to become a teacher, you chose a calling, a path with heart. Teaching is an invitation to a world of possibility…for your students and also for yourself. It’s by turning your own promise into practice that you’re able to unlock the potential of your students and make a difference in the world, for teaching is about big things, not little.
Though it may sound strange, it’s no less true that who you are, your personality, and your character all lie at the root of good teaching.
I believe Teaching Mastery is a journey of self-discovery—a hero' journey...path of the heart. It challenges us to look at “soft skills” as “essential skills” and at personal development as an important component of professional development, part of the path to professional mastery.
“No matter how we define effectiveness, there is a growing body of research indicating that teaching involves a complex set of knowledge, abilities, and personal attributes in dynamic interplay...most of what makes a teacher effective is his or her “soft skills” and personal attributes.”
—The National Council on Teacher Quality
This personal approach to teaching and learning, and its focus on you the teacher and you the human being, is exactly what we need to help meet the call for higher levels of student achievement, while maintaining the classroom as a place of exploration and inspiration. Unfortunately, it’s rare to find professional development and teacher preparation programs that focus on the inner life, emotional well-being, and classroom presence of the teacher. Most professional development and teacher preparation programs focus on the external elements of teaching: curriculum, pedagogy, and technology. Rarely, if ever, do they focus on the human beings—the teachers—who are tasked with implementing them.
While training in the external elements of the educational environment (knowledge and skills) is vital, the research is clear that focusing on the more-complex aspects of teaching—attitude, self-awareness, authenticity, and trust are essential components of classroom success.
It’s by bringing our “best” and most effective “self” to the classroom, in service to a purpose larger than ourselves, that we’re best able to meet the demands for higher academic performance, while helping students grow socially and emotionally. Good teachers teach the mind, great teachers also teach the heart.