The Magic of Teaching

Watching a street magician often leaves us awestruck at the art of magic. The ways they engage the audience, speak to the crowd, kindle audience participation, laughter, and fun, and then, of course, their execution of the routine, a fine art that leaves you with more questions than answers—intrigued, engaged, and wanting to know more.

Teachers have the power to add the same kind of magic. Think of a great teacher—they know their class, they know each student individually, they can effectively manage the room. The class buzzes with laughter, fun, and participation. And, of course, they deliver the learning—in ways that leave students excited for more. Students mingle at the end of class, wanting just a little more from their favorite teacher, or to ask that question they couldn’t quite put their hand up to ask. These magic-making teachers bounce into staffrooms and share enthusiastically about awesome lessons or days. As an educator, what magic do YOU sprinkle in?

I worry that some magic is at risk of disappearing, at the hands of rules, regulations, policies, strategic plans, curriculum overviews, ongoing risk assessments… These practices and procedures are all important, but they are only truly useful when aimed at providing the most precious gift we can give—a love of learning, and the magic that results: contribution. As we learn to integrate academic, social, and emotional learning, we empower our staff to fall back in love with teaching and to amplify their contributions to the next generation.

I met a prep teacher recently who told me she was ready to leave teaching. She felt disconnected from her purpose as an educator and was feeling the magic slip away from her days. Working with The Learner First, she joined her school’s “change team”—a group of leaders committed to Contributive Learning, to helping students discover their own kind of magic, the ways they can contribute to people’s lives and the world. Their journey was the game changer that got her to stay.

When I observed her teaching and saw its effect on her students, I didn’t want to leave the room. The magic was everywhere.