Finding the Third Bear in the Goldilocks Teacher Equation

Welcome back everyone.  I hope you all had a relaxing and reinvigorating Spring Break.  A few items of note (past and present):


  • Congratulations to Ms. Beamish and Ms. Walks who, with their committee of volunteer students, put on an entertaining Multicultural Show prior to Spring Break;
  • Congratulations to grade 12 student, Mimi Yu, who has an article and book review published in this month’s YouThink Magazine (out on Tuesday, March 24th 

As we enter the third and final term, we are positioned with one eye focused on what our students need now in order to succeed and the other eye looking towards the finish line.  In order to unfetter my mind of all of this over the past week, I started teaching myself how to play the guitar (a far cry from the punitive acoustic experience of having to play the accordion in my youth – what a liberating feeling to realize that this, as well as plastic covered sofas, are not an obligatory facet of the Ital-Canadian experience!).  I digress – back to the guitar.  My experiences over this past week have neatly coincided with the reading of an article I am forwarding to you:  Mr. Martin’s Oopses: the Best Educators Have Struggled to Learn, Then Succeeded.”




The author, Mitch Martin, while also learning to play the guitar, puts forward the premise that a teacher must be bad at something to be good at teaching (let’s be clear that he is not saying that you have to be a bad teacher to be a good Principal!).  Teachers are invariably skilled in their discipline but paradoxically, they spend their lives with people who “often aren’t nearly as good – or as interested in – the subject [they] love.”  If the author were put in charge of a college of education, he would have all prospective teachers take a class in “something at which they stink.” 


As I struggle with guitar lesson #27 with its rapid demand of “clean” eighth notes and the sliding up to the A,B,C of the fifth string, I find personal and professional ‘enlightenment’ in Martin’s conclusion:


It is in these moments that I gain a new understanding of what it’s like to read Julius Caesar when you have no clue what is going on.  I  have actually looked out into the classroom and recognized the scrunched-up, frustrated look on my students’ faces precisely because I’ve felt the same look come over my face as I mangle a Richard Thompson guitar lick.


As I struggle with my self-instruction, I think of the difference a teacher would make and I think of how every day each of you has the opportunity with your students to reframe failure as a struggle for success.  It took Martin three attempts to find his “Goldilocks Teacher”; how exciting and rewarding it is to know that for our students every experience you provide is “just right.” 


I wish you all a good week – enjoy the article.