I feel very fortunate to work where I do. Over the past two and a half years, I have developed some close relationships with many colleagues, all of whom I feel like I spend the entirety of my life. We seem to all be hardworking, motivated to break new ground in education, and I feel lucky to be able to surround myself with such intelligent people. It comes as no surprise that, with each meeting, whether it be in the classroom or “extracurricular,” that our conversations always seem to go towards the field of education.
When talking with one of my esteemed colleagues one evening, we had been discussing the challenge of getting our intermediate elementary students to think for themselves and to think outside the box. In the midst of our conversation, the watering hole at which we were currently enjoying began to slowly fill up. Soon enough, it seemed that many were standing shoulder to shoulder. A small heterogeneous group of people had become uncomfortably situated next to us, forcing us to make eye contact several times. Eventually, we struck up a conversation, whining about the crowdedness of the restaurant and getting to know each other.
Of course, the natural progression of the conversation guided us down the path of employment. We asked what they did for a living, and for the life of me, I cannot remember what they said they did. When they asked me, I replied, rather pithily, that I was a “Thinking Specialist” on the North Shore. Naturally, they had never heard of this position before, so they inquired further.
“Oh, so who do you work for?” one of the girls asked.
“My clients are mainly are nine- to ten-year-old students,” I retorted, with a half-smile on my face.
“Oh, you mean like a teacher?” another one said.
My eyes crawled in the direction of my friend, and we shared a laugh. Luckily, the others laughed along with us.
While this comedic anecdote could be seen as nothing more than a funny story, where I was once again being facetious, there is a great deal of truth tucked away in it. My friend and I had decided that night that we truly were thinking specialists, even if it was a self-proclaimed and fantasized title. When teaching elementary school, it may be helpful to be an expert in many subject areas and an all around knowledgeable person. However, if your knowledge from when you were a child fails you, or if you are asked to teach a topic or subject matter that was irrelevant when you were a child, you will need to learn it on your own–seeking out the resources, reading them, and synthesizing them will be essential. Really, you will need to think and learn. As if spending your Saturday learning about the different symbiotic relationships in an ecosystem wasn’t enough dedication, then you will need to determine how to make this information comprehensible to students who, ten years ago, would not have been expected to master content of this caliber. This is why, when working with our age group, it is more important to be an expert in the learning process and thinking. It is critical to teach the kids how to learn, problem-solve, ask quality questions, and think critically about the world around them.
The question then becomes, Well how exactly do I do this? Of course, I don’t have the answers. If I did, I’d be a wealthy publisher. This blog is intended to be a forum in which the many sides of my brain, heterological and contradictory while simultaneously intermixed and cohesive, battle and contend to come up with the best solution for whatever my educational woes are.
If I happen to gain some readers in the process, I would be enthralled.