Swimming in Lava

Staying Is The New Leaving is one teacher’s heart-warming tale of rediscovering how much she loves teaching. In the article Esme Kettle talks about deciding to leave the teaching profession but then choosing not to.

I read it this morning and chuckled a little.

I laughed because like Esme, I’ve thought about quitting teaching. Unlike Esme though, I actually did quit teaching.

Ten years ago, my last practicum and first two teaching gigs had eaten me alive. I felt out of touch with kids, teachers and education in general. I hated teaching. SO I quit. I loafed, and I bar tended, and I volunteered instead.

The volunteering was what did it for me. It made me remember what drew me to the job in the first place: relationships. It made me remember how much I enjoy connecting with kids. It brought me back to teaching.

Maybe that’s why my favourite part of Esme’s article was when she wrote about connecting with her students:

“…every day I take some time to talk to a student as though I won’t see them again. Remind them what they are good at and why they are special, encourage them to try new things and tell them to take care and be safe when they leave.”

I loved that.

Today I was working with a guided reading group, and we were reading instructions for making a terrarium (*aside: we’re going to try to put one together the next time we meet). I asked the kids “why would we have to put gravel on the bottom of the terrarium?” Somehow the conversation went from drainage, to the Earth’s crust, to lava. Finally one of the kids asked if it would be possible to make a suit that would allow you to swim in the lava at the center of the Earth.

I let the conversation happen.

I was an active participant.

I grabbed a laptop, researched and talked it through with the kids.

Turns out, if we can make a titanium or stainless steel suit that will keep you cool, then Adam can definitely swim in the lava in the center of the Earth (ish).

That tangent was the best part of my day. That moment with those four kids, where they really learned and were excited to do so… That moment is teaching.

…and, I hope, that’s what Esme was getting at.


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