Friday, December 12, 2008

Intensity and Experience


Moreover, as you teach, you begin to anticipate the material that will confuse these students. You realize that your intervention can effectively transfer a student from one camp to the other. At a certain point, the technical challenges to increasing student achievement disappear, but the moral challenge remains. Will you do it? Every day, every hour, every student for 180 days, will you do it?

John Thompson:

Teaching students who are years behind their grade level requires the same skills that allow a 55 year old to run the court with teenagers. I need to "read" my kids, identifying gaps in their knowledge and skills, and anticipating where their weaknesses will lead. On the basketball court, I read the kids’ minds and get my lumbering body into position before my opponent starts his move. Its hard to say which mind game - the classroom or the playground - is more satisfying. Not having kids of my own, I have cherished the opportunity to bang on the boards, take charges, hit the open man, and use guile to play tenacious "D" with my young friends.

Right now, the "Dan Meyer" character in my imagination is going all Kevin Garnett on his kids, all hustle and intensity, and wondering a) why everyone else doesn't play the same way and b) if he can or wants to keep this up forever. Luckily, it is not the only way to play basketball.


Dan Meyer said...

I don't get it. Are you suggesting that Thompson and I would be in anything other than total agreement about the power and potential in the teacher / student relationship? What is the other way to play basketball, again?

Tom Hoffman said...

Well, I'm trying to draw out a subtle distinction -- not a slam. I mean, Kevin Garnett is a pretty good basketball player. And to Kevin Garnett circa 2008, there is only one way to play. But there are other successful basketball players with different approaches. If you don't see that, it reinforces my point.

The challenge changes. When you're a kid, you're not very efficient, but you have enough energy and resilience to run all over the floor. As you get older, you can't run around as much, but you don't need to. You can get in the right place though anticipation and experience. It is still fun, it is still a challenge, but it is a little easier on you. That's how you have a career in teaching.