The Quintessence of Teaching

Merriam Webster’s Word of the day today is: Quintessence

1: the essence of a thing in its purest and most concentrated form

2: the most typical example or representative

Eureka! I immediately thought about my plight as a teacher. My most recent post, “Shaking the Dread,” was my song of lament about teaching. These feelings of dread usually fall upon me after a weekly PLC (professional learning community) or planning meaning. So after an extended break of holiday vacation, my first day back was full of these meetings and absent of the true planning time that I needed to input grades and prepare for my kiddos’ return. One of my gracious commenters to that post, helped me to realize that I needed to shake my focus on the margins and focus on the center, my students and what they need. My second day back when I greeted them, I got my passion back for my job, because it is all about them.

I know exactly what my students need based on what I observe from them each day. They each have varying strengths and weaknesses, idiosyncrasies, and pure genius. I can forget about the “noise” I hear from the powers that be about assessment and accountability. If I focus on that, my job is impossible.

Also, I am very anal. I love to have everything in order. Sorting things calm me so you can imagine my horror to realize that I will never be able to plan consistently like I want. I won’t ever finish everything I want to complete for each of my 24 students. However, when I am in my teaching zone and we are exploring a subject together there is an untold completeness that takes over the room. It is electric! The picture below sums it up for me. Now the trick is continuing to remind my self that this is the quintessence of teaching…the sina qua non. It is about the students and what I can do to bring a love of learning into their lives.



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