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Still Dreaming… Still Teaching…

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Robert Brescia
May 22, 2022

As a public servant / high school teacher, I engage in dreaming sometimes. Usually, these short dreams are during passing periods as I watch and greet my students piling into the classroom, or during my conference period, which is kind of a catch-up, catch-all period during the day. These are micro-dreams in a waking state—the main themes are generally the following:

I Dream:

  • Of having a very active class where the students are exuberant and engaged—very interested in the subject matter for that day.
  • Of having mastered the holy grail of differentiation—that it flows magically and in the exact format and measure that provides maximum effectiveness for each class period.
  • That all my classes feature a great amount of equity—where the realization that students tackle their academics from different starting points—and that my teaching recognizes and accommodates that.
  • That I always celebrate the diversity of all my students in the most positive and visible way, realizing the strength that it gives the learning effort.
  • That my students begin to learn from each other—the ultimate learning format—and not always from the “sage on the stage”.
  • That I plan far enough ahead as a teacher so I can solicit and line up interesting community folks to come and visit my students.
  • That I continuously check in with my colleagues to cross-check for best practices and things that work.
  • That I am always the type of teacher that doesn’t just lecture, although sometimes direct instruction can work well.
  • That I am always reflective and stop to do a little storytelling as appropriate using past experiences to explain current behaviors.
  • That I am ready to admit mistakes when I make them—very important to students.
  • That I always reciprocate respect—I expect my students to be respectful and I must always be respectful of them.
  • That I notice each student in special ways—and use their names frequently.
  • That I am the type of teacher who can relate to my students—look for and point out ways in which we have had shared experiences and concerns.
  • That I consistently practice fairness in all my classes.
  • That I routinely encourage my students to speak up and speak out in class.
  • That I value their time. Realizing that my students often have one or two jobs that they do after school and on weekends, adjust the overall course workload to take that into account.
  • Of being creative—all the time. Come up with games and game variations with popular themes because students like those and learn as well or better than with other instructional formats.
  • Giving short pauses, micro-breaks and transitions so that a class period is less monolithic.
  • That I always remain light-hearted and laugh a lot. I have found that students, even young adult seniors, have a love of joking and laughing. Embrace it and enjoy it.
  • That I learn and grow along with my students.
  • That I remain grateful for the thanks I get from my students, campus leaders and parents. I am thankful for them.

I Teach.

I have learned a great deal about myself as I progressed year-to-year, teaching high school students. I came to understand that the more I step out of myself—see my current self and practice with fresh eyes, the more successful I became in the classroom. I also began to understand that using only one single teaching approach may not be optimal for every setting—one size does not fit all. My students are part of the entire equation, the whole process and as such have a huge say in learning. I also came to understand that every day is a new, distinct opportunity to get it right in teaching, and every new academic year is a fresh awakening of the teaching and learning spirit. Sometimes it seems that the entire nation’s media has become interested in K-12 education lately—that politicians on both sides are making it a cause célèbre. With the debates about the role of teachers, parents and school boards, I am thankful that I have a job that matters—as much as I choose to make it matter.

So yes—I take brief periods of time to dream about my profession and to teach a lot—I absolutely love my job. I’m working every day to be the best I can be—and to be as close as possible to the dream. We teachers are all different from one another. But we all love the autonomy of our classrooms—it’s our garden—and we try every day to bloom where we are planted.

Author: Dr. Robert Brescia respects the wisdom of generations, promotes the love of learning, teaches ethics to university students, government & politics to AP seniors, and leadership to organizations. He is a candidate with the National Board for Certification of Teachers (NBCT) at Stanford University. The Governor of Texas re-appointed him to the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) for a six-year term. Bob has a doctoral degree with distinction in Executive Leadership from The George Washington University. Contact him at [email protected].

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2 Responses to Still Dreaming… Still Teaching…

  1. Christopher Stanley Reply

    May 25, 2023 at 7:04 am

    Thanks Dr. Bob!
    We need to hear your voice on these issues!
    Thanks for teaching our children and being a mentor to those of us who are a “bit” older;-)

  2. Richard V. Battle Reply

    May 23, 2023 at 7:58 am

    Best of many of Dr. Brescia’s great articles!

    I hope every teacher has the opportunity to see this!

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