How the pandemic forced me to become a great teacher

'I’ve been an educator for almost a quarter of a century. I am a good teacher; I know that. But the most important lesson I learned this summer was that I was no longer a “great” teacher, despite what I was telling myself.'

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Opinion

September 17, 2020 - 9:15 AM

“Good grief,” Charlie Brown groused at the end of many Peanuts comic strips. His exasperated exclamation evoked frustration and acceptance. In my first week of teaching virtually to high school students, I, too, said, “good grief” more than a few times. I said some other words, too.

I’ve been an educator for almost a quarter of a century. I am a good teacher; I know that. But the most important lesson I learned this summer was that I was no longer a “great” teacher, despite what I was telling myself.

Years ago, I was a great teacher. I leapt nimbly between bandwagons. I had time, energy, and something to prove. I fluidly spoke three languages: English, teenager and administrator. A decade later, I had become a statistic in what I call Newton’s first law of education: Teachers at rest tend to stay at rest.

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