Energy for Teaching: The Mental Energizers
As teachers, it’s a given that we want to do the best job possible. We want our students to make steady progress and become confident, able learners. We strive to utilize the best practices and techniques that can help make this happen. As a profession, we talk at length about what content we should teach, how we can most effectively implement instruction, and why certain issues are essential focal points. Undoubtedly what, how, and why are crucial, but too often we underestimate an equally significant element-who (Palmer, 1998 p. 4). Who is teaching? Something like, “Ms. Jones, with a masters degree and six years of experience” is a likely answer, but it’s an incomplete one. Ms. Jones brings to the classroom not only her skills and knowledge but also her convictions and attitudes. Even though they’re unspoken, her expectations for her students and her estimate of their abilities can have an effect as tangible as her lesson plans. Since our genuine desire is to further our students’ development, it’s important to remember that our assumptions can “form-or deform-the way [we] relate to [our] students” (Palmer, p. 4). They can also energize our work or leave us feeling defeated and incapable of realizing the good results we hope for.