Caricature Comes to Life

'Early warning signs of teacher burnout.'
‘Early warning signs of teacher burnout.’

“To reduce our vulnerability, we disconnect from students, from subjects, and even from ourselves. We build a wall between inner truth and outer performance, and we play-act the teacher’s part. Our words, spoken at remove from our hearts, become “the balloon speech in cartoons,” and we become caricatures of ourselves. We distance ourselves from students and subject to minimize the danger–forgetting that distance makes life more dangerous still by isolating the self.” -Parker Palmer

I spent last school year in the classroom of one of these caricatures. He was a prime example of what not to do as a teacher, and I took each moment as a learning experience. It wasn’t until I read Palmer’s excerpt that I found words to describe this teacher.

I don’t want to spend this post badmouthing this man, so let’s suffice to say that I hope to be nothing like the teacher he was. I want to be present in the classroom, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally. I want to be able to put forth as much effort into teaching as I hope to receive from my students. I want to create engaging lessons as well as give well-thought feedback. I want to be someone the students can count on, and to be open to the “Why are we doing this” question. I have seen the opposite and it isn’t a productive classroom.

I think if your heart is in it, you can’t help but be at least a good teacher. Maybe not a great one (there’s always new techniques to learn), but a good one. Going off of our discussions today in class, one of the most common themes of a good teacher is passion and true caring towards students. Neither of these can happen if your heart is not in it.

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