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Teachers must be patient to succeed

Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 12:00 am

I need to reread each year the chapter on “Patience” in “The Elements of Teaching” by James M. Banner, Jr. and Harold C. Cannon.  I need to reread this chapter because I tend to lose patience with myself and with my students.  According to Banner and Cannon, teachers must learn to cultivate patience.  They write that “even if teachers sometimes suffer-from hard, undercompensated, underappreciated labor, or from students who do not learn quickly or well enough-and if they sometimes feel that they cannot drag themselves through another day of punishing work, the patience required of them is an active, not a passive, virtue.

  Banner and Cannon believe that the act of teaching “requires teachers to harness their frustrations and fatigue, and to keep a steady eye on what they hope will be others' understanding of what they teach.”  They cite “the classic case of inexhaustible patience . . . that of Helen Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy, who never ceased to invent and hope and thus led her gifted student out of darkness and silence to a rich life of understanding and inspiration to others-a gift of unremitting devotion that gained its recipient worldwide renown.”

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