Monday, March 23, 2009

To a teacher

This is amazing and so true. I try to do most of it in my classes but there is still way to go!

To a Teacher
Robert A Grager
(Taken from ‘Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You his Shirt’ by Harvey Mackay )
A class knows you from what they see in you, hear from you and gather from your attitudes and mannerisms. 
Talk clearly. Use the device of repeating if you think there is a need. And PAUSE frequently, allow your students time to collect into a sequence, into some of order their impressions of what you have said. Nothing interferes with good instruction so much as confusion, both from without and from within.
Do not expect immediate grasping of your point, illustration, or reference. After all, the material of the morning should be old stuff to you, but new to your class. Did you grasp what your lesson contains the first time you met its content?
Hold the attention of everyone. When attentiveness wanders, so does thought and, like a swarm of bees, one wanderer can lead the hive into the woods. Be prepared for that! Have something new and arresting up your sleeve- a question, or tell a story, or drop a book, or just stand there in silence if you feel capable of carrying that little trick off, then begin over again.
But don’t complain, ever, about lack of attention. The fault is yours! You are supposed to be interesting one. See that you earn the distinction as a teacher. Better to go far afield and retain the respect of the class than to belabor a point on them without interest; for example, if it’s the weekend of the big game, the big dance, a student uprising, don’t fight it. Surprise them with a choice bit of timely wisdom, give them a five-minute exercise and then let your hair down and talk about what interest them. A good teacher expects a certain amount of such interrupting to his schedule and so plans it, like holiday in industry.
Be eager, especially about your subject, and being eager, be aware that others may have to learn to share your eagerness. You may have to entice them into a readiness for this eagerness concept, so many of the young being prone to put on the armor plate of sophisticated indifference, but, by and large, the young like to laugh. Laughter can be the salt of learning. Note that I said “can be,” for it takes taste and judgment to know when to laugh, when to frown, when to encourage and when to discourage. That is teaching. Would you have it otherwise? But how monotonous all one tone would be, gay and frivolous or acid sour or learnedly dull - heaven forbid! To be dull is the cardinal sin - like being dead. For living and growing is learning and you are one of the landmarks along the road of learning.
Expect no more than is reasonable. After all, you are not responsible for anything but what you contribute to each member of your classes. However, see that you contribute and do not fail into that common apology for inadequacy by blaming a pupil as “hopelessly dumb, stupid, uncooperative, lacking in foundation, below standard, etc.
You are in charge of your class and its instruction because it is up to you to produce commendable results. There is no need for any accusation, nor for loudness. Do not resort to argument. No two classes are identical. So be aware constantly of any special needs or ways that will help you and yours - and do not hesitate to repair any ill-advised venture. These are young minds you are dealing with and your contact with them is precious, never go to class unprepared. That is like a carpenter showing up for work without his tools. If you have to face the dilemma of “what shall I do with them third period this morning?” (As you undoubtedly will), be honest. Your lack is understandable and no explanation is necessary. Turn the class over for discussion, for repair of recent weaknesses, or for one of those “games” you should have up your sleeve. But don’t try to bluff your way through. It will take months to erase the stain of that shame and some of the blemish you never will remove because it is where you can’t get at it.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful thoughts.

    You are one of my the most favourite teachers. While reading the post I could picturise your classes. I remember your first class still, I was sitting in the first row and you were taking RC basics class and from that day there have been many sessions and I have loved all of them. I really mean it, I have loved all of them.
    And while you might say that there is still way to go, I would say as a teacher to me you have always been there.
    I really wish association continues.