Nov 042012

A little background before I explain what was said to me.

I was part of an IREX grant program that brings teachers from other countries to the US to learn about education, etc. My part of this was to host a teacher from Jordan for 6 weeks in my classroom 2 times per week, and mentor him on mathematics education, technology, etc.

It was a great program, and I learned a lot from interacting with Mr. S. and I think we will built a relationship that will continue in the future for the benefit of us both.

With that said, on his last day in my classroom he told me something that really changed how I viewed myself and my classroom behavior.

He said (and I am paraphrasing here) that in 2008 he wrote an essay for a teaching award in Jordan and in the essay he said he wanted to be the kind of teacher that leads learners to the result, but doesn’t tell them how to get there. He wanted to be the kind of teacher that creates problems for the learners to solve, and lets them work through the problems together, and the learn along the way how to solve other problems because of that. And then he said he wanted to be the kind of teacher that has a mutual respect in the classroom that allows for a good exchange of ideas between learners and teacher.

I said, of course, I think we all want to be that teacher. To which he dropped the largest complement I think I could ever get.

Mr. S. then said, “I wrote that 4 years ago, and I have never seen that kind of classroom until I had the opportunity to sit in yours. You are that teacher I said I wanted to be several years ago.”

You know, it took me several hours of thinking of that to really realize just what he said and what it means to me. I don’t think I have ever had someone say anything so nice, so supportive and so mentally Earth shattering to me.

I have never considered myself to be the teacher he described, but clearly this veteran teacher from Jordan, with many years of experience, and national awards in his own country thinks I am. And he thinks it because he spent 2 days a week, for 6 weeks in my classroom.

How do I live up to that? It still shocks me, and it was 4 days ago he said it. I guess I have never thought of myself that way, but maybe I should start. So I can grow, develop and continue to improve.

Or does that improvement come because I DON’T think it is true? I am not sure, but I am still blown away.

Thank you Mr. S. for making me think of myself in a very new way. I hope I can return the favor someday, because you have impacted me tremendously.

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