I used to think that being a “good teacher” meant knowing students. In my incessant quest for knowledge, another teacher and I decided to take a year to travel to various parts of México and visit the extended families of some of our students. Thinking I would come back with new information about students to use and share with others, I was surprised to return, instead, with a sense of never-ending-not-knowing and an understanding that any knowledge I may think I have about children is context specific, temporary, and with its own history. Trying, for example, to learn Spanish showed me that all language holds within a wealth of experiences and connotations that I can never tie down. Thus, not fully knowing students is an inescapable part of teaching, and my work of “good” teaching is never done. It just keeps me asking questions.
Fowler Drive Elementary School, Athens, Georgia
Six years of teaching