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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Teacher Appreciation National Teacher's Day And What Makes A Teacher Great? A Special Note To Homeschoolers

Today, May 3, is National Teacher's Day!  It is an American celebration of great teachers.  It is spelled out and exonerated by the National Education Association which supports classroom teachers, so where do homeschoolers fit in this equation of honoring teachers?  And, what exactly is it that makes a teacher great?

Homeschooling is legal, and homeschool teachers are legally considered to be just that - teachers. Every state in America has their own laws for homeschoolers to follow. But, in one way or another, every state in America accepts a homeschooling parent as a qualified teacher. Some have to present accreditation or special training. Others have to present proof that their children are learning through state-accepted tests and journaling. And, some states simply require that a homeschooling parent maintain records of a certain number of logged hours of instruction along with samples of the child's work. But, every state acknowledges a home school as a real school. Some states even qualify the home school as a private school in and of itself. If you currently homeschool, you are most likely very aware of the specific laws of your state. If not, you can find states listed individually at Home School Legal Defense Association's (HSLDA) Website

So, what makes a teacher so great? What makes a teacher worthy of a day of appreciation? A good teacher is not simply someone who has a degree stating he or she can instruct for pay. A good teacher comes in many forms. A good teacher knows that it isn't important to know every fact and figure. What is important is that a good teacher knows how to instruct a student to find out this information on their own. A good teacher doesn't just stand at a chalkboard and spew out knowledge. A good teacher is also wise. A good teacher looks into the eyes of the student and figures out how the student is looking at the information given. A good teacher approaches teaching from the point of view of each individual student until each individual student grasps the concept before moving on. This is done through learning on the part of the teacher.

A good teacher doesn't just instruct. A good teacher also learns from his or her students and puts this knowledge to use in lessons presented. My husband and I made the decision to homeschool long before we even had children. I had experience teaching on an early education level and I had a college degree. But, I would soon learn that this was not necessary to parent. Neither would it be necessary to home educate. What I've learned through my almost 11 years of being a parent is that what I thought I knew, was really nothing compared to what my children have taught me. Every year I seek out the perfect curriculum plan. Every year, this perfect curriculum plan gets changed. Why? Because my children are my students, and my children have individual learning needs. When I present a fact to a wide-eyed child only to see those eyes glaze over with boredom or confusion, it spurs me on to figure out the key. What is the key to this child's ability to comprehend what I am presenting to them? Educating multi-grade levels of 3 very different personalities is the challenge. But, I learn from them. They teach me something new almost daily. They have taught me that my ability to wait can take a lesson or two from the patience gallery. They have taught me that a fact I have known all my life as fact may, in fact, not be 100% true. They have taught me that things I take for granted as being necessary knowledge may have a deeper meaning than simply rote memorization. They have taught me that sometimes a 3 year old can read fluently and other times this doesn't come till much later. They have taught me that complicated arithmetic and scientific formulas and concepts can be learned at a very young age if presented at their level. They have taught me that getting through 1000 hours of study in a 9 month time frame as required by my state means nothing unless those hours are filled with family bonding and a groundwork of love and encouragement along the way. I can put on my teacher hat every morning and present a curriculum to my children. But, learning takes place when a spark ignites a burning passion to dig deeper and learn more. This is only accomplished when I'm wearing my student clothes under my teacher hat. Mix it with the love only a parent can have toward their own offspring, and you have the making of education that sticks. At least, that is my hope.

There is a deeper, yet simple formula to education and teaching. The Holy Bible, Proverbs 9:10 puts it this way:

The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom; And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post, Tere! I love the analogy of "wearing your students clothes under your teacher hat." It sounds like homeschooling has been such a valuable experience for your entire family and it sounds like you're a great teacher for being flexible and creative. An inspiration indeed. =)