Teaching is Learning
One of the best parts about designing a course and then teaching it is all of the learning that happens in the process. By that, I mean the learning that I experience as an instructor is as enriching as the learning I experience when I take courses. As a matter of fact, I have shifted my thinking in the classroom because I do so much of what my kids do--I am a learner too. I want them to see me as a learner as much as possible.
A shift in education is the theory that a teacher could be better as a "guide at the side" rather than the "sage on the stage." By empowering students to make decisions about what they want to learn, I learn too. As a matter of fact, I find myself slipping into the role of active learner more than delivery expert.
For example, Charlene, has me thinking deeply about peer-to-peer feedback; Jim has me thinking about the satisfaction of pushing ourselves forward to grow; Lauren and Jenna's connection over reader's notebooks had me reflecting (Why don't I use a reader's notebook with my 8th-grade students?); when Carlee and Tim talk about their interests in music or film, I find myself thinking about how powerful it is to get to know students. I think of each of them now as a musician and films critic and not as a generic student or just another teacher.
All of this reminds me of Donald Graves' last book, a Sea of Faces, where he shares the importance (and techniques) for getting to know our students. He would make a point to listen to students deeply (what a purposeful and difficult move that can be when so much is swirling around in our own heads) and then he would write their names down each day after school and then try to write keywords or ideas that he learned about each: Tim--teacher, Unionville, mother was a teacher, teaches a film course, very helpful with technology, has a sense of humor (his stormtrooper banner on his blog made me chuckle)...etc.
When we open ourselves up to the full experience of our roles as teachers, we can learn so so much more than who achieved a standard or goal of the course. By our students' sides, we can learn and grow as well...and, quite honestly, we should.