This week I learned what a facilitator is. The teacher devotional I'm reading defined it as "one who makes things easy or less difficult." The words "accelerate, advance, enable, promote, and serve" were also included. The thought led me directly to the most obvious question.
Am I a facilitator?
In this very moment, I have my doubts. Let's take writing for example. Although I have a passion for teaching writing, have studied writing from many of my favorite gurus, and have taught several teachers how to teach writing, I'm currently baffled as to how I can make it easy or less difficult for 20 out of my 25 students.
I have a gift, as many early elementary teachers do, for reading the hieroglyphics of young writers, yet even I can only read the writing of five of my writers. I was hoping to use Calkins' new Units of Study this year. It's much too advanced, so I've put on the breaks and returned to her older units. Unfortunately, even the lessons there are proving to be a struggle. The required stamina, effort, and skills are missing in huge quantities. I've never run into this before.
Once I get over my woe-is-me attitude, and I must do that quickly, I have to find a way to make writing easy or less difficult for these 20 students. As Routman has referenced, their strengths are indeed initially small. It doesn't seem much to work with, especially compared to what I'm accustomed to, but comparison is the thief of joy.
So they're not like any class I've ever had. What am I going to do about it? I have a responsibility to teach them, even if it varies from how I've taught before. I have to find a way to accelerate, advance, enable, promote, and serve this particular group of students. I must be a facilitator.