During my years as a support teacher I’ve spent a lot of hours in the classrooms of LOTS of wonderful, enthusiastic, caring, supporting, and knowledgeable teachers. I have seen a wide range of teaching styles, debated diverse teaching philosophies, and always learned new strategies and view points from all the encounters I’ve had with colleagues. The most stimulating and growth producing place I have ever worked was a school with the largest diversity of teaching philosophies. We had teachers from the fundamental, desks in rows orientation, to the completely open classroom, power to the students, stance. This wide variety of philosophies and styles was strongly supported by the principals who “ruled” during the eight years I worked there. It was a powerful place! Most days lunch was filled with interesting, passionate discussions about what was happening, what was working, what was a mess, and what should be done. We argued all the time, but it was never hostile, only challenging with a great deal of humor in each encounter.
That school provided me with the best experiences and ideas of my career and I grew more there than anywhere else I ever worked. The staff, although amazingly diverse, was enormously supportive of each other. There was no animosity in our varying strong beliefs—I think it was totally clear to all of us that all the various teaching styles represented there were needed to meet all the various needs of the students. There are just some children for whom I will never be the best teacher, and others for whom I am. Thank you, you fabulous elementary school, for eight wonderful years!
I love diversity. Why are we so interested in homogeneity these days? I hate this trend where all teachers at the same grade level have to do the same lessons, use the same homework, and be in the same place in the textbooks at the same time. One school district I worked in is trying to make this apply across the whole district, not just within a school. I think it’s a really bad trend!
Originally published on March 18, 2010 on another website.