Great teachers aren’t teachers 180 days a year, they are teachers 365 days a year. Their every experience is creatively incorporated into an upcoming unit for students. This gives their lessons a relevance to which young minds flock.
This upcoming academic year will be my 29th year of teaching. The nine most recent years have been as a freelancer; teaching in over thirty schools and universities each year around the world. I can claim, with absolute certainty, that my time out of the classroom has made my teaching much more interesting and effective than any in-school preparation. Why? …Because the real world is filled with analogies waiting to be discovered. Analogies are what break down classroom walls. Analogies give deeper meanings, dimension and relevance to anything. The foundation of every student’s “Ah-Ha Moment” can be found in an analogy.
When and where do great teachers find these analogies? They find them when their minds are free from the preoccupation of mundane, school-year, teacher tasks that occupy all non-instructional time in their schedules. They find them during the summer; when they stop and look to the left and the right instead of constantly straight ahead; when they have time to travel further than ten miles from their school or their house; when they can do research or make videos to share of their own experiences that have a curricular tie.
To my fellow teachers… As you know, the personal attribute of wanting to instruct and guide young people does not turn on and off with the calendar. It is innate, and it needs time to refuel. Before September, find as many analogies as you can. The young people who guidance counselors are assigning to your classes at this very moment will be the lucky beneficiaries of your enthusiasm. Take time to enjoy the ride this summer. The more you do, the more gratifying next school year will be, for all.