I often wish that I could carry Jiminy Cricket in my pocket. Pinocchio was a lucky puppet to have Jiminy Cricket as his conscious. Jiminy Cricket attempted to guide Pinocchio, but, as a stubborn boy, Pinocchio wanted to learn on his own. By the end of Pinocchio, Pinocchio learned the value of independence, decision-making, and friendship. As teachers, we have to cut the strings and allow our students the opportunity to guide their own learning. In Choice Words: Chapter 2, Noticing and Naming by Peter Johnson, Johnson examines the role of teacher and students, and he proposes how a teacher can encourage a student to be an independent worker, thinker, and reader by the words a teacher chooses. In response, as future teachers we are challenged to acquire the theories necessary to help us understand the science of teaching. Although we can recite Cummings, Vygotsky, Piaget, and Skinner, the science of teaching does not help with the development of the actual art of teaching. The art of teaching is the automaticity of evaluating, adapting, and executing lessons and conduct modifications within nano seconds. By the way, I forgot to add that this nano second decision has to be made while managing 27 children, the principal walking-in to evaluate you, and a child throwing up. During that nano second, I want to pull Jiminy Cricket out of my pocket, place him on my shoulder, and allow him to guide me through the muddle of over consumption of philosophy and whisper in my ear the wisdom of the art of teaching. I have stopped to ask several crickets if they would like the job of being my conscious, but they all have denied to take the job by hopping away. As a result, I have learned the art of teaching is acquired by being perceptive to student’s needs and how they learn.
Since I cannot find a cricket to sit on my shoulder as my conscious, I must rely on my inner voice that I call my teacher’s perception. A teacher’s perception is when we can make decisions regarding a child’s instruction within nano seconds to ensure that students are maximizing their learning potential. Johnson made an important point that children learn the most through positive words; I prefer to use the saying, “you get more with honey than you do with vinegar.” Through positive words, teachers can demonstrate to students the importance of caring, yet foster a student’s confidence to be an independent learner. By enabling students to guide their own learning, students will be able to evaluate his or her own learning needs and seek strategies to help with areas of weakness. Through my experience working in kindergarten, the most important skill a student can learn in a class is to be independent and to take control of his or her own learning. If you recall, Pinocchio became a real boy when he made his own decision to save Geppetto. In the classroom, the art of teaching is when a teacher cuts the strings prepares his or her students to outgrow the teacher and the parameters of the classroom.