I read the statement "I do not teach in isolation" in an article about a teacher who won a prestigious award as an educator. I like it. That teacher gets it. How many of us do? How many of us used to get it, but forgot it. Did I forget it?
It is the word isolation which interested me most. It means she does not teach alone, that much is obvious. Yet, to me, it also means that as teachers we are not isolated in our classrooms, building, community, or country. It means that everyone shares in progress and development of a young person. Everyone. This includes coaches, directors, or anything else which happens after school. By the way, I've grown to despise that term after school...as if the activities performed on fields or stages are not school.
That teacher's wise statement also suggests that we do no teach isolated within information we learned 10, 15, 20 years ago. It means we grow, or should grow. It means that we push ourselves to be better teachers, or should.
Take it a step beyond and I think it also means that we do not teach isolated within the months August-June. Teaching is a vocation. We can not, nor should not, shut off the development or sharing of our skills or gifts.
Teaching is year-round. It is life-long. Many educational institutions state that they wish to create life-long learners. Well, then we need to embrace the fact that we are life-long teachers as well as life-long learners too. None of it stops for us. Nor should it.
We may all know teachers or colleagues who do teach in isolation. Colleagues who have stunted their own growth as educators, coaches, and maybe even parents. If you are one of them, and I have to ask myself that as well, then shame on you. Shame on us. Maybe we have forgotten the promises we made when we first took the job. The promises we made that we would do whatever it took to do what is best for kids, for us...we promise to be the best we can be.
If we meant what we said, then teaching and learning never stops.
June and July may provide time and separation to recharge the battery, but not so that we can return to our own warm classroom wombs in August.
If we meant what we said when we were hired, then we should not be living the stereotype of the teacher who gets his summers off, who cannot be called on the carpet for incompetence or neglect, or even for an easily adjusted mistake...and we absolutely should not hail stones down on those who do all that is right, and good, and promising about what we do. We should not criticize those who do.
The next time an administrator or colleague speaks to a group of teachers, respect him/her.
The next time an administrator or colleague suggests something which could benefit the school or a school program, respect him/her.
We can not expect or demand respect if we do not demonstrate it to each other first. We can not promote life-long learning if we do not do it ourselves. We can not expect respect if we do not respect the vocation and work to become the best we can be. And we can not do that in isolation of any degree or form.
Teaching is not isolation.