Monday, February 29, 2016

Teaching Tip #114

Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #114
Here is another take away from the John Maxwell podcast I referenced a couple of posts ago: do you want fans or friends?
Maxwell asks himself this question constantly.  I think his point relates to young teachers especially.
Maxwell says that if you want fans, you aren’t going to ask much of them.  You certainly aren’t going to challenge them with questions.  You are just going to wow them with all that you know.
Now he is speaking from the perspective of a professional speaker.  But this applies to teachers too.  I fell victim to this for quite a few years in my teaching.  I wanted the students to shut up and just listen to all the amazing things I knew (thanks to the teacher textbook or study guides) about A Separate Peace or Julius Caesar.  I really was just imitating what my professors did in college, for I was one of those students who would sit in awe of all that the professors knew.  So why wouldn’t I want to replicate that?
I thought that was teaching! I wanted them to think I was so smart and so cool, just as I did when I worshipped my professors. Oh man, those poor students of mine.
The problem with fans, though, Maxwell reasons is that it’s a one way street.  You just deliver value to them.
Instead, Maxwell states that he wants friends.  Now, I’m not suggesting teachers should be “friends” with their students (especially young teachers), but I certainly don’t think there is anything wrong with being real and entering into a learning relationship with students.  If that leads to “friendship,” then so be it.  I mean I have several close friends now who once students.
The difference between fans and friends is that with friends, you expect them the challenge you.  You want to enter into a two way relationship that brings value to both sides.  In other words, they aren’t just sitting their soaking up all of your knowledge.  Rather, they are willing to challenge you because they care.  They are willing to ask questions and dig deeper than just fans.
As a young teacher I wanted so much to be thought of as smart and that I knew so much more than my students.  Now, though, I know for sure that they know more than me (I mean I took geometry as a senior and scored a 20 on my ACT), but my role isn’t to impress them with all that I know.  My role is to create an environment that challenges and inspires them to learn.  Often times that challenging and inspiring them leads to frustration on their part and mistakes on mine.  But that is what “friendship” is about.  We challenge each other and grow as a result of the interaction.

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