Today, I watched a totally grown adult pitch a complete fit. It was atrocious and deliciously awful, and it made me shake with rage at the way she acted and spoke to both me and a fellow colleague (who is literally not only one of the nicest people I know but also an amazing teacher), spitting forth her famous retort that should silence us all... "Well, research says...".
Her insanity oozed all over me like a flow of mentally deranged lava. Then I was treated to an email whereupon she not only challenged the talents and teachings of people I completely respect but also climbed on some weird medal stand of one to congratulate herself on being the best thing since sliced bread. She also quoted "Best Practices" -- which some uphold as practically the word of God. Quoted it.
It was gross and tacky, but it got me thinking.
Whatever did my own teachers, coaches, and professors -- the people who not only inspire me daily but practically saved my life -- do before all of this mountain of research and statistics and books advising them on every detail of their teaching careers? I wondered how many trainings they must have gone to? How many afternoons and Saturday mornings did they give up to learn the next greatest way to teach me and my classmates? Were they bombarded with facts and figures predicting their success or failure as well as my own?
I will simply never know. Probably because until now, I never thought to ask. I assumed that they chose their career because they wanted to help kids. They taught what they adored. They taught what they were passionate about, and that this passion was enough to move their students... whether that move was to pass their class, graduate, or someday find their own classroom in which to motivate, inspire, and help change others.
I'd like to think that their Best Practices were simply this: to love me. To celebrate my successes. To comfort me in my losses. And to teach me throughout both. To not only attend my basketball games and drama performances but also to attend to my failures at Home Ec sewing and trigonometry (although I've yet to use either in real life). To know my parents. To know my friends. And to counsel me when either let me down.
So to Little Miss Meltdown, you can keep your data and theories about what makes a great teacher, and I'll keep my memories of the real life ones.