Monday, October 09, 2017

Teaching Tip #28

Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #28

Here are six things that lie at the heart of great teaching.

First, you are kind.

One of my favorite sayings comes from Dave Ramsey, who says, “If you want grace, extend grace.”  I believe kindness is at the heart of grace.  So if I know I won’t get an essay returned to my class within a week, I try and find a place where I can grant them a little grace in return.

Second, you are compassionate.

I heard another great quote that reminds me of the importance of compassion: by establishing a relationship (through compassion, of course) with someone allows you to build a bridge of trust.  That’s vital because that bridge allows me to deliver some criticism or constructive feedback to them . . . and they will actually listen.  If I didn’t have that relationship built (through compassion, of course), then the other person will just see me as an asshole.

Third, you are empathetic.

I am reminded of the saying – everyone you know is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

That doesn’t mean you have to excuse or enable.  It just means you kind relate to what people are going through.

Another way of thinking of this is a quote I read in Penny Kittle’s Write Beside Them about how she dares any teacher to find their high school yearbook, open it up, take trip down memory lane so they remember what it was actually like to be 16 again (to be scared, to be vulnerable, to be immature . . .).  Then look at your students and have a bit of empathy for what they are going through.

Fourth, you are positive.

I’ve said it continually: negative people suck.  Avoid them.  At all costs.

And I used to be one.  It didn’t do me any good.  Other than dragged others around me down and made me part of the problem, not the solution.

Fifth, you are a builder.

I think this is what I try to do best.  I always strive to see something inside of students when they can’t see it themselves.

You can’t buy that in a Collections curriculum order.  You can’t learn that in college.  You can’t quantify that with a standard.

That’s why teaching – the best teaching, if you ask me – is an art.  

Find a nugget buried deep within students and then start building from there.

Here is how it worked with one of my former students, Cierra, who I recognized early on as having a talent and flair for teaching.  She didn’t see it yet though.  Her it is from her own perspective –

Mr. Reynolds is without a doubt one of the most influential people I have ever met.  Without him, I wouldn’t have found my purpose in life.  I was fortunate enough to have him as my College Composition I and II teacher at Lincoln High School as a junior and senior, and again as my Introduction to Education professor at The University of North Dakota during my sophomore year of college.  After his class at UND, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  I was moved to tears countless times, knowing that I had finally found my passion.  Mr. Reynolds told me for years he saw me as a teacher, and little did I know he was right all along.  I am now entering the end of my junior year at UND with a major in Elementary Education.  Because of Mr. Reynolds, I found what I am meant to do.  Because of him, I figured out who I am and who I want to be.  A million thank yous will never be enough.”

Last, but not least, you inspire.

I have dubbed myself “Chief Inspiration Officer” of room 205.  If you stop by and I don’t make your day just a little bit better, then I’m in the wrong line of work.

We have to inspire our students.  But again, where will you ever see that on a lesson plan, rubric, teacher evaluation plan, or in a standard?

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