I had a conversation this morning with my sister Sheila, who has been an education professional for over 25 years. She started as a grade school teacher, advanced to a literacy coach, and now serves a large school system as a supervisor for grades k-12. It is a huge job to implement new standards for teaching in an aging population of teachers. No one, and I mean no one, is comfortable with change. When it comes, the resistance to change is great, and the person appointed to deliver the message is "persona non grata" for sure. The thing to know about my sister is, she is absolutely passionate about her advocacy for best practices for the sake of the students. If she were the manager of your child school system, you would lucky!
I bring this all up because I am new to the teaching process. I certainly share my sisters passion for sharing and communicating information with students. I am still new enough that I am working out the rudiments of this communication process. I am self conscious in my delivery, especially in lecture mode when sleepy eyed students don't seem to respond at all to what my conversation is. I know they've been balancing lots of plates on poles like a circus act, but just the hint of a smile at one of my jokes to acknowledge they are breathing would help!
What I love about the process, and get a chuckle over, is how exciting it is to see people who have never worked in metal before, make a really beautiful solder. It is like magic the first time they fit everything well, cleaned, fluxed, and watch the solder run perfectly along a seam. I am standing right beside them with my finger crossed, holding my breath as they are heating the piece and adding the solder!
As my students progress from learning basic skills, to planning and executing their first complex projects, I am right there in their corner. If I can find a way to help them realize their goal, I've achieved something too. I have had to rethink through and find a way to talk about parts of the craft that are intuitive or second nature to me, deconstructing all the steps that take me to a finished product again. The result is, in my own practice as a craftsman, I am remembering details of the process that I have glossed over, and am again refining my own craft. It's been an amazing awakening, and I am falling in love with the craft again.
My hope is, that I will always feel the benefit that teaching has brought in regards to my own craft, and that I will always be open minded and hear what people suggest to help me be a better teacher and communicator. I truly believe my students success is my own.