- Who We Are
- Where We Stand
- Our Rights
- Our Benefits
- Our Chapters
- ADAPT Community Network
- Administrative Education Officers and Analysts
- Adult Education
- Block Institute
- Education Officers & Education Analysts
- Family Child Care Providers
- Federation of Nurses
- Hearing Education Services
- Hearing Officers (per Session)
- Occupational / Physical Therapists
- Retired Teachers
- School Counselors
- School Nurses
- School Secretaries
- Social Workers & Psychologists
- Speech Improvement
- Supervisors of Nurses & Therapists
- Teachers Assigned
- Charter School Chapters
- Other DOE Chapters
- Other Non-DOE Chapters
- Get Involved
- Career Timeline
- CTLE / LearnUFT
- Classroom Resources
- Courses / Workshops
- English Language Learners
- Job Opportunities
- Positive Learning Collaborative
- Professional Development Resources
- Students with Disabilities
- Teacher Center
- Teacher Leadership
- Teacher's Choice
- Team High School
UFT.org Home > News > New York Teacher > New teacher > New teacher diaries > Learning to love learning
by BronxTeach | October 14, 2010 New York Teacher issue
Last week my school gave parents an opportunity to meet with teachers. In my halting, broken Spanish, I dispensed as many suggestions as possible for the handful of parents who visited my 3rd-grade classroom.
I talked about the importance of homework and reading every day. I talked about ways parents could help their kids learn basic math facts, practice telling time and counting money. I suggested a lot of ideas and it might have been overwhelming.
Before I let them go, I tried to emphasize something more important than all the little ways they could help at home. I tried to add one last message, in my stilted Spanish: “Yo quiero los niños a aprender como ... encantar ... aprendiendo.” I want the kids to learn how to love learning.
This is the essential challenge of my teaching this year. It has always been a focus of my teaching, but it feels especially urgent this year. Perhaps it’s tied to the rocky start I’ve had to the school year.
As I’ve struggled through several lessons with an especially talkative and inattentive group of students, I can tell that nobody’s enjoying themselves. The best parts of my day have been when a mess of students are struggling to control themselves and can’t wait to share their ideas. It can be frustrating when students forget to raise their hand, but it’s also a sign that they’re excited. It’s this excitement about learning I want to cultivate in every subject, every day.
But I also feel a sense of urgency because lately I don’t hear anyone talking about this. From the highest levels down to the schools I’ve been in, this topic seems absent from so many conversations about education reform and student achievement. You will hear words like data, performance standards and intervention to no end, but rarely will you hear anyone ask, “Do our students love to learn?”
It’s important to me, because I know it’s the only way my students will have a chance to succeed. I may not get all my students to grade level within the next nine months, but if I can help them develop a drive and desire to learn, then they will find a way to catch up. Conversely, if I somehow got all my students to grade level, but crushed the love of learning out of them in the process, as soon as they left my classroom their development would end.
I understand completely the importance of data and other trendier concepts to the 21st-century classroom, and I utilize them fully. But we cannot create the next generation of innovators, inventors or entrepreneurs anywhere — let alone the poorest neighborhoods — without creating a sustainable thirst for knowledge within our students.
Love of learning and “college and career readiness” are not mutually exclusive, but rather are deeply intertwined. I wonder about ways to achieve this synergy, whether through more engaging instruction or more field trips. And as I think about my own commitment to simultaneously helping my students to learn and helping them to love learning, I wonder why we don’t hear more voices acknowledging that both are vital to our children’s education.
Bronxteach is the pseudonym of a fourth-year teacher in an elementary school in the Bronx. A version of this post first appeared in the UFT blog, edwize.org, where “New Teacher Diaries” is a regular feature. If you’re interested in writing for Edwize, send an e-mail to William Levay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is your favorite movie about a teacher?
Dead Poets Society
Stand and Deliver
Mr. Holland's Opus
Total votes: 642