Thursday, February 16, 2017

My Joy - Teaching by Arthuretta Martin

I wasn’t born to be a grade school teacher.  
Let me rephrase that.  
I wasn’t trained to be a teacher.  
Hmmm that’s not quite right either.  
Wait. Let me explain.

The first 30 years of my life I did something other than teach young people but clearly, I was born and trained to teach.  That sounds better. 
I love teaching children. I love teaching adults.  I believe teaching is my calling. During this second half of my life, I’m finally answering that call. I am excited when my students “get it.”  I love it when they don’t “get it”; when they must stretch their minds to understand new concepts and ideas.  
For about 20 years I taught adults. I taught adults the complex and often contradictory concepts of Federal Acquisition.  What is that you ask?  It is teaching how and why the Federal government buys goods and services.  This field also includes training people how to manage those contracts.  
I’ve found similarities and differences between young people and adults in learning.  I came with a pre-conceived notion that I had to work harder to teach young people.  I don’t.  I must work differently.  
Just like adults, young people take classes because someone told them they had to do it.  Just like adults, young people take classes because they’re interested in the topic.   The student that knows more than the teacher?  I get that with both students and adults.  Both are pliable but there is no question that adults do not stretch like children.  
Adults must sometimes unlearn biases before we have room to open to new ideas.  Young people come with biases too but their biases were usually placed in their precious minds by well-meaning adults.  The joy comes when you can help a young person place those biases in perspective and embrace a different way of seeing the world.  Stories, and helping young people learn to write their story and listen to each other’s stories have given me the opportunity to do just that.

I teach public speaking. One form of public speaking is storytelling. I teach children not only how to tell a story but what makes up the craft of storytelling.  
Their imaginations are as vast as the ocean.  
In the processing of speaking, you must improve listening.  We live in a world where people do a great deal of talking but don’t always listen to each other.  In my class, we not only focus on public speaking best practices but we teach listening and how to give feedback.

 The joy comes at the end of the quarter.  Each student gives a prepared speech which will always include storytelling.  
I have one young man who began taking public speaking with me two years ago.  He had some challenges.  I worked with him.  Today I do believe he’s not only a good speaker he can compete as an orator.  
Some of us go through a lifetime without ever experiencing joy.  I’ve have found joy through children telling stories.

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