Last time I journaled I wrote about my experience as a photography teacher to adults and gave 4 Ideas to Teaching Well. And there I promised to talk about the one thing I work hard not to do that breaks learning down. Are you ready?
I don't think you're ready. Are you?
Okay, here it is: thinking it's about you. Teaching is about the student, not about the teacher. And when we teachers make it about us, when I make it about me in the classroom, it shuts down most (if not all) learning opportunities for the students there to really succeed.
I can create a safe environment where I am a guide, a mentor, not a competitor or an idol.
Let me offer an example:
Let's say I'm teaching a beginning photography class to adult learners. Before we even imagine our way into the classroom let's think about what it took for those 10-15 students to give up their Saturday morning and drive to the classroom. Likely some had thoughts like, "Why bother? I'm not going to get it anyway." And not only did they fight their own internal battles, they gave their money to be there. That's one major difference between adult learners and youth learners--the adults invested their hard earned money to show up.
Already before we're all nestled into our classroom places a lot of work has been done by my students. Then, imagine me standing up and introducing myself, listing all my accomplishments, all my abilities, all my successes. If you're already doubting your abilities to learn, or your capacity to understand the things I'm covering, what does that do to your ability to stay engaged?
Sure, there may be a few who thrive on antagonism and competition, but the rest likely do not.
So how can I help them? I can make it about them when we come together. I can help take down the wall barriers they've been fighting not to build their whole drive over. I can create a safe environment where I am a guide, a mentor, not a competitor or an idol.
But how will they know they can trust you? How will they know if you're an expert in your field, you ask? Because they will experience it. They've already bought in (literally and figuratively) by showing up. They are coming vulnerable, let me not cause them to regret it.
Here's how I introduce myself and keep the focus on my students: after going around the room and having them share their names and why they are sitting in that chair this morning, I introduce myself last. I answer only the same questions I asked of them. And we move on. I've found this creates an environment of compassion, camaraderie, and a freer tendency to engage and ask questions.
Next time I'm going to share with you the teaching system I use to create curriculum and lessons that impact and engage my students.
In the meantime, tell me about your teaching and learning experiences. Share in the comments. I'd love to hear from you.