I grew up on John Wayne.  He was my grandmother’s favorite and every time a J.W. movie came on, life stopped and we watched. He was rough and tough, but inside, he was tender and caring.

My first 2 public education jobs had me smack dab in the middle of the inner city.  I was raised in extremely rural circumstances, so it was a bit of an eye-opening experience.  We had to be “rough and tough” and make sure the students followed classroom procedures and stayed out of trouble.  That was sometimes hard because the students lived quite a different life outside of our school walls.

That’s when I began to realize that as a teacher, I had to understand “the whole child”‘ not just the child I interacted with in the classroom.  I had to tap into my tender and kind skills so that I could better relate to my students.  I quickly learned that as get to know the student better-their home life, financial situations, the fact that a lot of them had gang members for brothers and sisters, and even the fact that some went straight from school to work until 10:00 at night-I can meet them where they’re at and truly teach them.

Like John Wayne, I’m rough and tough and make them tow the line (teach them life skills not just educational knowledge skills), but I need to be tender and kind and consider where they’re coming from (understand the whole child).

John Wayne is definitely my “inner teaching chi”.  Tough when I need to be, but caring and understanding at the same time.

So….who/what is your inner teaching chi?  I want to know.

~Mitch


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