What hasn’t changed in my teaching may be a more pertinent question, and the answer is a quick one. My passion for learning and teaching grows stronger with each passing day and experience. On the other hand, while passion may be a good place to start, it leaves the potential for a lot of gaps, so in the past nine years I’ve been filling them in, building bridges, and seeing the landscape of teaching and learning through a kaleidoscope rather than binoculars. In past years, I had to worry about the details. I’m not ashamed of that; the details were small and manageable places to begin, a foothold for the passion. But I worried about the kinds of details that can inhibit instead of inspire good teaching. I worried about the tardy passes, all the right forms, the careful – nearly robotic – construction of a lesson.
While there is still important work in the details, crevices that need to be packed, now the details are different. I notice the inconsistency of a student smile, the subtle shift in a reading habit, the nuanced voice in a piece of writing, and the way in which I can provide guidance and feedback to each student’s learning process. I’ve learned to channel my passion so that it fuels enthusiasm and steady pursuit of learning goals. I now see the kaleidoscope of each learner – brilliant chips of color, constantly making patterns and creating pieces of art.
Sarah Brown Wessling
Johnston High School, Johnston, Iowa
9 years teaching