If you are like me, you taught for many years the way in which you were taught. I still wish I could go back to my first class…or two…and apologize to them all. Many things I did were done purely because I didn’t know any better. I handed out detentions for kids who didn’t do their homework because I served detentions for not doing mine. When kids didn’t comply with my directions, I engaged them in power struggles in front of the class because teachers took me on in school when I disagreed. I was the king of making and assigning packets because that is how I recall getting through so many classes back in the days of my youth. Bottom line, many teachers just do what they have experience with and much of that is through our experiences as students.
We have to believe that all teachers are doing the best they know how. Teachers who are drawn to the profession likely had a great school experience as a kid and want to replicate that for others. Or, they had a horrible school experience as a kid and want to protect kids from a similar fate. The reality remains though, teachers will never be better or get better unless they experience better.
It is not a simple matter of teaching “right” or “wrong”. We do the best we can with the knowledge we have. With that in mind, the only way a teacher can improve is by opening themselves up to new ways of teaching. This can happen through reading books and blogs, visiting other teacher’s classrooms, or even connecting with fellow teachers through social media. As educators, we have to believe there are others somewhere doing what we do and doing it better. As a junior high librarian, I know there are folks doing my job better than I am. They have better ideas and are doing amazing things with kids that I haven’t even thought of. I feel I have a moral imperative to find them and learn from them in any way possible. It’s about constant self-improvement. Period.