Monday, January 8, 2018

Practicing Teacher

I'm going to start calling my classroom my practice.

Lawyers get to practice the law. Practicing lawyers. Doctors get to practice medicine. Practicing doctors. Teachers teach. Why don't we get to call it practice? (Just to get it out of the way, "teaching practices" is different and you know it, Pedantic Reader.)

Lawyers barely hide it. Matt Murdock says he practices law. When he's in court trying to put the Kingpin away again, he's practicing. He's still not ready for the final. He's still working on it. His office is called a practice. Even the building doesn't feel prepared.

Doctors barely hide it. They call what they do practicing medicine, but when you're in your underwear on the table suddenly everyone knows exactly what they're doing. If I had looked at his business card it would have said "gastroenterology practice", but the MD wasn't like, "Time to practice sticking a camera up your butt."

I can't be in a parent conference telling some concerned mom that I'm practicing teaching on her kid. That makes me sound like a mad scientist. Even though that exactly what I'm doing. If we embrace the idea of constantly growing then we're constantly practicing teaching. Every day I'm practicing teaching math concepts. I'm going to try a lesson, then I'm going to reflect on it and change things, then I'm going to do it again. Over and over. That's practice. I know, I was an athlete, I've practiced stuff. I assume that's why most schools have coaches.

When do doctors and lawyers practice their practices? Why do they get away with calling what they are actively doing every single day practice? Today's lawyers had teachers teaching them how to practice law. They didn't have teachers practicing teaching them how to practice law. That's Inception-levels of practicing. The universe (or university) would fold in on itself. No, their teachers didn't have the luxury of practicing teaching. They had to straight up teach their bright-eyed law students how to practice.

Yet, school feels so important. Every single day is another chance to reach a kid, help someone learn something, make a connection. Get a win. That's not what happens in practice. That's game time, while being much more serious than any game. Can you practice during a game? If sports movies have taught me anything, you can. Kinda. Hit the cut-off man, Evelyn. But that's not when you really get a chance to get the reps in. You do that during practice. Before and between games. You know, when I'm lesson planning (practicing writing lessons) and grading (practicing giving feedback). So I don't ever have time to practice teaching? In person, with the kids?

I reject that. The language we use to describe what we do matters. I am growing in my teaching. I am constantly experimenting, refining, and tuning how I educate my kids. In short, in my classroom I am practicing. I'm teaching my kids to practice. Together we run our practice.

Room 17 is the Education Practice of Robertson & Partners.

I am a practicing teacher. And I always will be.

If you like this post and the other posts on this blog you should know I’ve written three books about teaching- He’s the Weird TeacherTHE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome), and the just released A Classroom Of One. I’ve also written one novel- The Unforgiving Road. You should check them out, I’m even better in long form. I’m also on the tweets @TheWeirdTeacher

1 comment:

  1. Well said. I frequently refer to teaching practices and practicing. No such this as teaching perfect.