Teaching is simple...
I learned how to play chess when I was six years old. I begged my father to teach me and, even though I was young and the game was complicated, he agreed. I must have lost to him a hundred times before, at the age of seven, I finally managed to win a game against him.
I didn't memorize opening sequences or study chess theory; I didn't know any famous strategies or have a formula for how to make moves. I learned a few simple principles that, if followed habitually, would tend to result in success: "maintain control of the center;" "when in doubt, attack;" "see the whole board" and so on...
There exist countless tips, tricks, and strategies designed to turn regular teachers into extraordinary ones. The most extraordinary teachers I've ever had used a lot of these tools frequently, but never built their practice around the tools themselves. That's because good teaching isn't about the formula or tool you use -- it's about meeting the needs of the people you serve.
Extraordinary teachers abide by this simple principle: do whatever you can to help meet the learning needs of your students. This is how I teach.
...but not easy.
People are not formulaic. People are organic; people are unpredictable. Sure, people may share similar characteristics and behaviors, but every student that walks into my classroom has a unique combination of learning abilities and needs. My job is to help fulfill those needs so that my students can make full use of their learning abilities.
So many things can make it difficult for a student to learn in school: home life, social life, past experiences, nutrition, mental health, language barriers... With such a unique assortment of learning needs in each class, there is no way that I could teach the same thing the same way each time.
Fortunately for my students, I don't try to!
My teaching isn't about me; it's about my students. I believe that every one of my students is capable of learning -- not necessarily on the same day or in the same way. I provide the experiences in which my students can best learn. I do this with help from parents, colleagues, administrators and, most importantly, input from the students themselves.
My name is Ryan Cardenas
and I am not a physics teacher.
I am a teacher.
I happen to teach physics.