I keep re-reading Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man.
I’m supposed to be reading books about teaching: how to teach. Something inside my little brain says reading anecdotes will not teach me anything.
Either my little brain has no pull, or it’s entirely wrong; I honestly can’t tell which.
In many ways, I’m in the same position McCourt was in: middle-aged, and just learning the things most people learn when they’re twenty. I’m learning through trial and error… lots and lots of error. I get advice from people and books, and find some of it useful, but more often it’s my own intuition which is useful.
McCourt writes one part in Chapter 15, when a former student asks if McCourt liked him:
Tell him, McCourt, tell him the truth. Tell him how he brightened your days, how you told your friends about him, what an original he was, how you admired his style, his good humour, his honesty, his courage, how you would have given your soul for a son like him. And tell him how beautiful he was and is in every way, how you loved him then and love him now. Tell him.
I did, and he was speechless, and I didn’t give a tinker’s damn what people thought on Lower Broadway when they saw us in a long warm embrace, the high school teacher and the large Jewish Future Farmer of America. (p. 240)
I’m not going to be hugging my students on Lower Broadway. I probably won’t be telling them how much I love them, either. But I’ll be thinking it. I’d like to think they’ll be able to see it in my face.
Ultimately, this is what will make me a good teacher: loving the people enough to want to see them happy in their educational journeys, loving what they bring to my educational journey. This is what seems right when I pay attention to gut-feeling.
Thanks, Mr. McCourt, for being a good teacher.