Notes from an
What builds a solid teacher?
The right setting, a sense of
calling, a zeal for learning,
and a renewable energy source.
Carol Ann Tomlinson
I’ve always liked the title of Anne Tyler’s book The Accidental Tourist, perhaps because much of my life— and certainly my teaching career—seems accidental. I’d love to say that I never wanted to be anything but a teacher. In truth, I aspired not to be a teacher.
My mother was a teacher—a very strong one. For one
year in my early adolescence, I went to the school where
she taught. It was a dismal year for me. I was the new kid in
my class, having just moved with my parents from another
town. I was too tall for 6th grade. My hair was too long
(until I made an argument for getting it cut, and then it was
too short, too straight, and too stubborn). The school was
very different from my prior school, and I couldn’t quite
figure it out. I was pathologically shy.
The teachers in the school were good people and good
educators. That made no difference. From time to
time, a teacher would say something to my mom
about me and the comment would inno-
cently make its way into dinner-table talk
at home. I hated the feeling of being
watched and talked about. I vowed