What Teaching Is All About

Hello FLMS staff and families!


Below is an abbreviated article about the challenges of teaching.  I hope you enjoy it.


Dave Patota


Freetown-Lakeville Middle School


What Teaching Is All About

In this evocative Boston Globe Magazine article, novelist Steve Almond remembers the precise moment when he felt literature come alive: his ninth-grade English teacher picked up a copy of The Catcher in the Rye and read the first chapter to the class. “Nearly every person I know has some version of this story,” says Almond: “The moment when a teacher changes the course of your life. A good teacher, after all, wields the authority of a parent with none of the psychological baggage. The best of them are semi-mysterious figures whose wisdom seems boundless and whose approval helps us discover who we are.”

Almond’s own start as a creative writing teacher in a Boston college was a little rockier. One student wrote in her course evaluation, “If writing was a part of my body, I would cut it off with an X-Acto blade.” Yikes! He quickly realized that teaching, especially in elementary and secondary classrooms, isn’t about charismatic speeches or dramatic failures: “It’s about managing classrooms full of kids at very different places intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically… Most of all, it’s about the thousands of small acts of attention, of encouragement and guidance and discipline, by which a teacher transmits his passion for learning to his charges. Standing before a class, you have to portray your best self – fair, patient, wise – for hours on end… You don’t always see the complete impact of your best work. You witness a few initial sparks, not the full flame of knowledge it can ignite within a student.”


“Connections: The Gift of a Great Teacher” by Steve Almond in The Boston Globe Magazine, March 23, 2014 (p. 57),

Marshall Memo 531 April 7, 2014