August 3, 2010

It’s That Time of Year, Teachers!

My daughters and I jumped into a fresh school year this week. Other home educators and teachers in traditional private and public schools will start soon, too – or already have in some cases. Which means, of course, it’s “that time of year” again: teachers in all educational settings are in back-to-school mode!

During my years as a classroom teacher, that meant reviewing curriculum and materials, finalizing syllabi, setting up my desk and room, and making lesson plans and initial copies. Though on a different scale, I prepare in similar ways now in our homeschool.

More important, though, was (and remains) doing a “heart-check.” You see, though I was quite good at classroom management and now maintain solid discipline in our home, I’ve never viewed myself in my teacher role as an authoritarian, top-down figure. Instead, I believe teachers should have a servant attitude, a demeanor that plays out in demonstrable love for kids and a desire to discover and meet their individual needs as much as possible.

Ultimately, I’ve seen such an approach bear much fruit – among my own students and in children taught by similarly oriented colleagues. When kids see a teacher’s positive, open, inviting spirit, they respond with similar attitudes. And that overarching “vibe” in a classroom or home facilitates children’s abilities to absorb, internalize, and apply the particular content area(s) being addressed. It also simplifies the task of classroom management because kids feel they are such a teacher’s allies, not her adversaries.

Conversely, the authoritarian stance – in which a teacher communicates, “it’s my way or the highway” – sets kids on edge and puts them on the defensive. That locks up their brains into “fight or flight” mode.” As a result, learning is hindered, not helped. And those kids will have many more discipline problems.

It’s a challenge to maintain a positive, servant attitude all year long – though, of course, it is possible with perseverance. But it’s a lot easier to stay the course you initiate at the beginning than to switch gears mid-stream. So we’ll do ourselves – and our students – a huge favor by purposing to put on the right attitude starting the very first day.

Photo Credit: Alfon


1 comment:

Isabel said...

great post :) So true!

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