Teaching ability: Natural or Acquired?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by Bored of Ed, May 31, 2007.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Miss Jana

    Miss Jana Rookie

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 2, 2007

    These are interesting questions you've brought up, and I think it's really great that you are trying to hash out all this stuff now...I'm a lot like that myself! :)

    I have always felt I was a natural teacher...it's what I've always wanted to do. Still, it does take practice and training to work with kids...at least for me.

    I hope that during your field work you have an opportunity to work with different grade levels. To me, I think that is key. I know most people consider third grade "young", but not to me. My third graders basically thought I was weird, and they weren't interested in many of my activities at all. However, I also student taught in first grade and they LOVED me! Even though people consider third graders to be "young", they aren't to me. They are BIG! I just landed a job in Kindergarten, and I know it's where I belong. Kinder or First is the oldest I ever want to teach.

    Likewise, I think the opposite can be true. Perhaps the age group you are with now is too young for you...that's a possibility. I think if you get a chance to work with different ages, you'll find where you mesh.

    I agree with another poster...if you didn't have what it takes inside to be a teacher, you wouldn't be concerned about these things. You wouldn't have a determination to do this job. I think it takes practice to be good with kids...a lot of women have lots of experience with kids growing up....I didn't, so I will have to catch up as I teach. And the part about tripping over your words....I wrote a post on that awhile back and I think it just takes practice.

    For what it's worth, for a long time...every time I walked into the front of the elementary school, I felt like a kindergartener getting sent to the principal's office! It took me awhile to feel comfortable...I was so overwhelmed and in awe, I felt like a little kid.

    Also, one more thing....when you are interacting with kids now and during your student teaching...the one thing I learned...they know you aren't the "real" teacher, and it's always harder. I remember my mentor teacher in third grade doing some things that I would consider VERY boring, but because the kids saw her as THE teacher, they loved everything she did. I think kids often do want to please their real teacher, but they just don't care as much about other teachers around (at least it seemed that way with the third graders I worked with). Does that make sense?

    So don't worry if you don't hit it off at first during your student teaching...I think you'll be just fine...especially when you find that prime age group for you and you land your first job and you are the 'real' teacher. Just my two cents.... :)
     
  2. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Messages:
    2,230
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 2, 2007

    Thanks, TG. You flatter me. :angel:

    I think I have made a LOT of mistakes in thinking that some kids are just like me, and I really still need to learn to avoid that in the future...

    I am also praying that I will come into my element when I have my own classroom. There's only so much you can do when you're trying to work with someone else's discipline system (or lack of which...), organization, and methods.:rolleyes:
     
  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,799
    Likes Received:
    1,167

    Jun 2, 2007

    If it's any consolation, Bored, I'm still working on "they're not all just like me..."
     
  4. Carmen13

    Carmen13 Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2005
    Messages:
    1,318
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 3, 2007

    I agree with this TG. :love:

    Bored of Ed, I always wanted to be a teacher...but the moment I started teaching, I started questioning myself on whether this was the right job for me.
    After student teaching, I was placed in night school, teaching adults (which is very different than teaching teens) and I did that for 3 years.
    This school year, I have been teaching teaching grade 8 and 9 - the "difficult age", and I found myself going nuts almost every week and looking forward to find a different career. I just didn't think I was fit for this job, because some important things, like like classroom management, just didn't come out naturally to me. Now, as the school year approaches it's end, I realize that I know how to "do my job" better than I did last year, and that I need to give one more try before I consider doing something different.
    Bored of Ed, you were given great advice in this thread...you need to give it a few more tries, and more importantly, acknowledge the age groups you would be more interested in working with, because that's something decisive, I think.
     
  5. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Messages:
    831
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 3, 2007

    Bored, think art!! And the other discussion we just had...I think you and I are in the same boat...so lets make a deal...uh, forget that!

    I always played school, but I didn't want to be a teacher until high school, when I had my sights set on a specific not-yet-in-existance class...and discovered that I really was not cut out for that type of teaching when the opportunity did arise. I also did try a few different ages (within my pickiness-I won't go above K), and discovered that I do best with Pre-K.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,799
    Likes Received:
    1,167

    Jun 3, 2007

    Well, and there's no reason to decree that what isn't right now won't be right at some point in the future.
     
  7. Kerfuffle

    Kerfuffle Rookie

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 3, 2007

    Bored of Ed, I appreciate your post and the many responses to it. This is a question I have as well. I'm subbing now and will enter a credential program in the fall. As a sub I experience various levels of success, probably depending more on the class and its teacher than on me. There are times when, by the end of the day, I am slurring and transposing my words because I have become tired and overwhelmed. There are other times when the class seems to go well, and I think I've explained things well, and then I see the work that's turned in and am amazed at how much the students did NOT get it. I wish I could go back and try again, but of course I'm off subbing elsewhere the next day. I am counting on experience to help work some of this out. Then, sometimes things really do go well and I feel especially hopeful and optimistic.

    Perhaps your questions were meant for more experienced teachers, but what the heck, here are a few of my answers:
    No. But I always knew teachers and writers were the professionals that touched me most in my life.

    I am developing them; still learning.

    I'm kind of introverted and always assumed I'd want to do a quieter, more solitary or one-on-one job. Surprisingly to me, that kind of work was boring and lonely to me. I care more about education than most other things, so I decided to give teaching a chance. That way I can impact people directly, and still be involved in a topic (science) that is interesting to me. From what I've heard from longer-term teachers, it could take from 2-5 years of teaching to "know what I'm doing". So I'm planning to give it some time.
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,799
    Likes Received:
    1,167

    Jun 3, 2007

    Kerfuffle, you might be surprised how many teachers are introverts.
     
  9. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Messages:
    2,230
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 4, 2007

    I'm also a bit introverted... always thought I'd want to do 1:1, but recently I realized that 1:1 takes a lot more social skills than classroom teaching -- In a classroom, the dynamics kind of keep themselves going and you "just" need to steer them, whereas if you have a quiet or balky kid 1:1 you really need to be the one getting things moving.
     
  10. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2003
    Messages:
    1,237
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 4, 2007

    Me! Me! I'm an introvert.

    You'd never guess by the way I call out on the forums.
     
  11. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2004
    Messages:
    7,775
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 4, 2007

    It's true that many teachers are introverts. I am one of them, but you'd never know it at work. In "other" public places, shopping, get-togethers, etc, I am very quiet most of the time. Of course with age comes a certain entitlement to say what we want and wherever we are, so some of you introverts might be surprised how you change through the years! I am very comfortable around my class. That's what I love about Pre-K kids, they are so non-judgemental. Adults seem to be always scrutinizing our every move and comment. The beauty of the little ones lets me be me.
     
  12. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2007
    Messages:
    5,276
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 4, 2007

    Another introvert, waving away!
     
  13. 25YearsIn

    25YearsIn Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 6, 2007

    For the record, you (fellow) introverts might get something from reading the Keirsey & Bates book Please Understand Me II, which builds on the work of Myers & Briggs and sets out in very useful terms the notion that introversion / extroversion has less to do with public reticence / shyness or the lack of it than it has to do with how we gain energy. Briefly put, the introvert gains energy from solitary pursuits and loses it in interactive ones; the extrovert needs that interaction to get energy and tends to go dull when not around others. Thus, the former comes home from a party tired and ready for quiet time. The latter is energized and ready to take on the world--or maybe some of the things that have been piling up. (An over-simplification, but I hope it illustrates the difference in temperaments. Reference pages 331-332 , if you care to.) The Keirsey & Bates book helped me understand myself--and explain myself to my extroverted family in terms they could understand. LOL--extroverts truly don't "get" how all that "fun" can truly exhaust an introvert, with the result that many introverts grow up believing they are somehow not quite right. My own family simply cannot fathom how I can now work as a public speaker and yet call myself an introvert. But I'll bet that makes perfect sense to some of you! And yes, I also find one-on-one far more exhausting than speaking to large groups.

    I'll go out on a limb and try to quote you an interesting stat from memory: although introverts make up about 25% of the general population, they comprise about 40% of teachers and 90% of fiction writers.
     
  14. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Messages:
    2,230
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 6, 2007

    I wonder what would draw introverts towards teaching, in which you have to be actively involved with people for hours at a stretch. Perhaps it's because we prefer being with children than with adults?

    Maybe I should quit and write some fiction...
     
  15. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,799
    Likes Received:
    1,167

    Jun 6, 2007

    The answer to Bored's questions would be "particular kinds of introverts", would it not, 25YearsIn?
     
  16. 25YearsIn

    25YearsIn Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 6, 2007

    Well, one has to remember that introverted people think deeply about subjects--and persons--that interest them. They are wonderful listeners and have the ability to help others see themselves more clearly as a result of that focused attention. Think Socrates.

    It's also true that just because interaction with others exhausts an introvert, this in no way suggests that the introvert does not, in fact, love the process. Many of us do. In fact, it is the intense interest and enjoyment that can lead to that zapped-battery feeling later. And that means time to recharge, wherein lies the rub for the introverted teacher. The recharge time an introvert needs rarely exists in a teacher's life; introverts tend to burn out as a consequence, IMHO.

    As to having a preference for children over adults. Hmm. I'd say that many of us have a preference for less artifice in human relations, given that we have limited energy for transactions with others. Children are spectacularly real.
     
  17. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Messages:
    2,230
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 6, 2007

    I like the way you put it, 25.

    Oh, and by the way -- a little update: (especially for those who participated in my panic about mini model lesson)
    I gave my model lesson yesterday. It must have been pretty good because they offered me the job (I don't consider that so spectacular, though, just good, because there's not a lot of competition for this position...)
    Anyway, from the moment I got started, I just felt so comfortable and poised! I was so surprised! Beforehand, I was a nervous wreck and I didn't feel well enough prepared. I was also nervous about the kids; I wasn't sure what level they were on or anything. But in the end, I actually enjoyed the process of giving the lesson!
     
  18. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,168
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 6, 2007

    Yes.
     
  19. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,799
    Likes Received:
    1,167

    Jun 7, 2007

    They are indeed. Sometimes excruciatingly, when one is down to one's next-to-last nerve.
     
  20. Kerfuffle

    Kerfuffle Rookie

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 7, 2007

    The Introvert Advantage

    I loved "The Introvert Advantage," which covers some of the same topics already mentioned. It also differentiates introversion (losing energy from interaction) from shyness (self-consciousness in the face of interaction). This is sometimes a helpful distinction to share with others.

    25YearsIn -- I likewise enjoyed your thoughts on introverts & kids mixing.

    Bored of Ed -- I'm glad your lesson went well! :)
     
  21. asiltropwen

    asiltropwen Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2005
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 7, 2007

    a little of both

    I think teaching is a profession that is taught, but can't be followed to the letter of the text because, as we know, situations in classroom are often unpredictable. It is also a natural given ability that is tweaked as you go. A good teacher has the natural ability to roll with the punches and adjust in different situations. It gets easier each year as you become more confident that you know what you are doing ..the kids sense it and follow suite.
     
  22. Carmen13

    Carmen13 Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2005
    Messages:
    1,318
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 7, 2007

    This was an enlightening post. I never thought myself as in an introvert person... I thought I used to be an extrovert kid who had grown up to be a little shy person. Now I'm not so sure...mmm....
     
  23. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,168
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 7, 2007

    Same here, exactly. But until I read 25 years In's post, I never connected it with the reason that while I love teaching, I always feel so drained when I come home. I turn off all the phones most days as soon as I walk into the house. And sometimes I don't call people back for weeks. When I'm at social gatherings you would never guess, I'm listening to this person's stories, joking with that one, laughing and being sociable with everyone. But unless we're helping with the cleaning up we leave after a few hours and I can't wait to just be quiet. I tell the girls they're invited to my room for a "read-a-thon" and we all get on my bed and read our books. I've been thinking about this lately because I've noticed that talking this way on a forum doesn't take much out of me when if it were phone conversations, I would not be able to do it. It's the opposite, really stimulating to exchange ideas with each other.
     
  24. Carmen13

    Carmen13 Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2005
    Messages:
    1,318
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 7, 2007

    I feel exactly the same way. When I get home, after a school day, I long for peace and silence...reading a book is the way to get my mind off school things. Three years ago I had a "tough" 7 grade class, and by the middle of the school hear I was getting burned out...I forced myself to develop an hobby (getting better at playing guitar) so I would find some peace of mind.
     
  25. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,168
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 7, 2007

    Carmen, I know. We're so quiet and peaceful in our house. Thank God, because one thing about working with kids is it's like a soap opera drama almost every day. :)
     
  26. Carmen13

    Carmen13 Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2005
    Messages:
    1,318
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 7, 2007

    Indeed!;)
     
  27. Mable

    Mable Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2005
    Messages:
    2,409
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 7, 2007

    I don't consider myself an introvert or an extrovert- sort of both. Is that possible?
     
  28. Mrs.Sheila

    Mrs.Sheila Cohort

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2006
    Messages:
    531
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 7, 2007

    OK, I wrote my whole story in the hopes of getting some advice, but besides for that what I really want to know is this:Can teaching be taught?
    a) Did you always feel a natural inclination or "calling" to teach?

    Yes, most definately did it feel natural.
    b) Did your skills of working with students (not specific strategies, but just knowing how to deal with them -- socially, emotionally) come naturally or did you have to work to develop them? How to deal with the situations comes naturally for me, but... I think experience plays a big part of that. Four years ago I might have handled a situation alot different then I would right now.
     
  29. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,168
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 7, 2007

    Apparently. :)
     
  30. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2007
    Messages:
    2,007
    Likes Received:
    12

    Jun 7, 2007



    Is teaching taught? You are darn right it is! Even the "natural" teachers have things to learn.
    I always thought I was a "natural" teacher, well in 33 years I have found I never will "know it all" even tho I try to be one.:D

    Well after 33 years as a teacher (I am retired on Paper) I can't remember when I decided to become a teacher. Maybe jr hi when I got a 96% in math for for my grade on the report card (this was a merit grade if you averaged over 95% you got a number instead of "A" "B" "C" etc.) I wanted to be a math teacher then in High school I fell in love with Electronics, an Electronics teacher, then in College I found woodworking was a joy so a Wood shop teacher I became. I doubled up on math in case shop was done away with well next year I will be the Honors Algebra teacher

    but I do think I need to fully retire Maybe I have run the race.

     
  31. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,799
    Likes Received:
    1,167

    Jun 7, 2007

    Yes, indeed: an extroverted introvert can be the one who sparkles publicly but NEEDS the down time. I suppose there's also such a thing as an introverted extrovert, too.
     
  32. 25YearsIn

    25YearsIn Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 7, 2007

    Think of the two poles--extroversion and introversion--as the alpha and omega of the traits those words represent. We all have the capability for both, and where we fall on the line between the poles has much to do with preference in the sense that right or left handedness has to do with preference, hard-wired though it is. You do have another hand, yes? You could use it for writing if you had to do so, with effort and practice, yes? But most of us would much rather stay in our comfort zones as a rule. Many persons are close to the mid-point but lean toward one or the other end. Image up a bell curve, if that helps. I'd guess in a general population it'd hold true. And if you're sufficiently interested to find out just where you do fall on that continuum, theres a trait sorter in Please Understand Me that's really fun. I found that I'm extreme in three of the four pairs of traits that system identifies, and I only had a few points toward center in the last (J/P). I had absolutely no points toward the middle in introversion. This helped me come to grips with why nineteen years' teaching eighth grade language arts left me feeling as if I'd been on a treadmill marathon for longer than I could remember. Even though I loved the work and found it rewarding, I had to face the fact that it really drained my batteries. And it also helps me understand why the last seven years of writing for a living and doing (intentionally limited) public speaking better suits my needs. BTW--no set of preferences is considered better than any other. But if you understand your own hard-wired preferences, it's a whole lot easier to 1) understand that your needs are real--even if your needs seem quite out of step with those around you, 2) think about how well your outer life meets those needs, and 3) think about what has to be changed to better meet those needs. How to do it is another puzzle, LOL.
     
  33. 25YearsIn

    25YearsIn Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 7, 2007



    LOL, Mrs S, teaching was the one thing I thought I'd never do. I have memories of puzzling as a child over how mean the kids were to teachers. I might be a bit different from others in the profession. Many people come into teaching because of a love of their subject matter and a desire to share that love, ignite others with a similar passion for it or for learning in general. I'd call that a calling because one most likely has to teach to pursue it.

    My passion is humanity. I came to teaching through a blend of economics (Must Support Self) and the desire to work for peace, to leave things just a little better than I found them. How better to do that than to nurture the generations that followed me? I found a fit with those aspirations in the language arts classroom, where literary discussions leave a great deal of scope for teaching children how to see the forest for the trees, how to cut through fog, how to understand what is real about a situation and not be thrown off by what someone else says should be real and therefore is real despite the contrary evidence of their senses. Personally, I require challenging work, and adolescents are endlessly that. All in all, I found them a good reason to get up in the morning, the only one that held up for me over time. But there are many other avenues to meet my aspirations for peaceful change, one person at a time. The good folks who put in countless hours supporting others on this forum know something about that, hmmmm?

    B) As a young teacher I failed to understand that to be an effective teacher I would first have to communicate one thing to each individual I faced each day: "I care about you." The students who heard this, who really got it, learned far more effectively. But I wasn't very good at communicating that this was why I chose to teach, and that they, individually and collectively, were the point of it all. How to communicate that message in the face of the very high level of product I asked of them became the work of some many years. But once I learned to get that message across, I saw a very different level of achievement because my students knew that even though my class wasn't going to be a cake walk--as if learning to analyze literature and write coherently ever could be--I would be there with them, and if they could come along for that trek, we'd get somewhere that would make the effort worthwhile. We in education constantly ask our students to come around blind corners, to work for skills whose value is frequently only visible in retrospect. To get them to do that requires that they understand that we're really on their team, looking out for their best interests.

    It took me the first five years of my career to settle classroom management and curricular challenges. Then I spent the rest of my classroom time working on the above. And it was work, no question. Love usually does require all we can muster.
     
  34. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,168
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 7, 2007

    25 Years In, you sound so cool. Your insights have enlightened many of us. Thank you.
     
  35. 25YearsIn

    25YearsIn Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 7, 2007

    blushing Gee, thanks.
     
  36. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,168
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 7, 2007

    Ohmigosh, you and Teacher Groupie are going to love each other! That sounds so much like something she would say! :)
     
  37. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,799
    Likes Received:
    1,167

    Jun 7, 2007

  38. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,168
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 7, 2007

    I'll check it. :)
     
  39. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,799
    Likes Received:
    1,167

    Jun 7, 2007

    Keep reading till it goes off topic; that's where it started getting fun, though I still feel just a little guilty about poor mimers.
     
  40. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,168
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 7, 2007

    I see you've already made each other's acquaintance! :) You seem like kindred spirits. And both full of wisdom.

    I laughed so hard when I saw the last comment by 25 Years In:

    Que magnifico! (you'll get that one I know, TG) So just how long has this grammar fight been going on?

    Now if 25 Years In would only visit this other thread that started off so incredibly but is now limping along.......that would be interesting. :)

    We're going for a walk right now, be back around 5:30 or so.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. TeacherNY,
  2. Paris23,
  3. tajamul hussain,
  4. Ima Teacher
Total: 235 (members: 4, guests: 196, robots: 35)
test