The Evolution of the Class Teacher

It could be argued that if we remained the same adults as we were the day we turned 21, then it would be pointless to advance into later adulthood. By virtue of the fact that we are formed by our experiences and as we get older and there are of course major milestones in our lives which change the way we feel, think and act. It is inevitable for us to be moved and shaped and transformed, it is part of the human experience. It’s like vegetables. We don’t like them during childhood, then we tolerate them and finally learn to enjoy them.

And this brings me to the Waldorf School class teacher. Shame, some think, seven years with the same children. Or, seven years with the same teacher!! What a crazy notion on the one hand, but what possibilities on the other. And if the class teacher is not able to continually develop and reflect back to the children what they need in terms of virtues, attitude and authority, then the seven year journey is likely to be a continual struggle, riddled with drama and disappointment playing itself out on the stage of the children’s hearts and souls. We are beholden to represent ourselves as developing and to come back each year with refreshing ideas and engaging teaching methods to meet the new needs of the growing children. This is what makes being a Waldorf teacher exciting.
We learn that if we transform our inner attitude towards our teaching, the children respond with equal enthusiasm to what we bring. For they see and feel “my teacher is able to bring new ideas of his own, my teacher is talking about things which really interest me, my teacher is somehow different this year, and finally, my teacher understands me.”

Of course one can quickly become stale and get into a teaching rut, but very soon, especially in the upper primary classes, the young adults will rebel against such teaching. So it’s a continual striving to recreate and enliven the curriculum with our own thoughts and content as much as possible, but also to recreate and enliven ourselves. Art, nature walks, cooking, living one’s truth and creative writing are some of the soul nutrients that help me stay in tune with the ever-questioning, criticizing, loving, free-thinking and wonderful children I teach in class seven.

Matthew Stodel