Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #112
This tip is for young teachers: ask questions. But this also applies to veteran teachers as well. This morning I was listening to a podcast featuring John Maxwell. The focus of the podcast was - shocker - the value of asking questions.
Maxwell talked about the first time he met the legendary Jon Wooden. Maxwell knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to sit down and talk with (and no doubt ask questions of) the greatest coach ever.
So Maxwell prepared a legal pad full of notes.
Wooden invited him to breakfast. After about 30 minutes of casual get-to-know-you chit-chat, Maxwell asked Wooden if he could ask him some questions. He then proceeded to pull out his legal pad with about five pages worth of questions on it.
He began asking away. Finally, around two in the afternoon (so much for casual breakfast chit-chat), Maxwell thanked Wooden and said that he had taken up more than enough of his time.
“But you just asked me questions,” Wooden exclaimed.
“Well,” Maxwell replied, “I had a lot to learn.”
Impressed Wooden said, “You know if you want, you can come back and see me anytime.”
Here was a legend telling Maxwell that he would welcome him back any time. Imagine how many others would have loved to be asked back for a visit by Wooden!
And Maxwell went back several more times, always with questions to ask.
You see as young teachers, you have a ton to learn. The worst thing you can do is think that you know it all. Or really that you even have a clue. Because you don’t.
I mean I’m closing in on 20 years teaching, and I feel like I’m now just starting to get a clue.
And vets, the worst thing we can possible do is to start thinking (or even considering) that we know it all.
I had a colleague who retired a number of years ago who I admired, but the phrases I never heard from him were - “Huh, I never thought of that before” or “Huh, you have a great point there.”
I believe (and I could be wrong here) he never said these things simply because he thought he knew it all.
Yet, I had another colleague who retired after my first year of teaching, who never ever stopped asking questions or learning new things.
What I wouldn’t give to be able to sit down with him right now with a legal pad of questions and just ask him question after question for a day.
I had that chance when I was a first year teacher - and I did pick his brain constantly - but I should have asked even more questions.
I left a lot of knowledge on the table.