Friday, July 17, 2009

Playing it Safe

This past year, I guided my first student teacher. After five years of teaching, I wanted the experience of bringing another into the fold. It reaffirmed for me - how much of teaching is instinctual. There is a great deal that can be taught, should be taught, and even the best, go-with-her-gut-eyes-in-the-back-of-her-head teacher should be exposed to new theories and new modalities - even if most of them are recreations from the past; I believe all human beings benefit from some personal development, or alternative exposure to get the creative juices flowing.

That being said, I was reading a great article - especially for new teachers, but really for any human being that is in need of sharing information with another human being, in the classroom or the boardroom - One Mind at a Time
There are many things to be said about how to teach or even why to teach. There are numerous modalities Universal Acceleration, Differentiated Instruction, Theory Based, Experience Based, and the list careens around a multitude of corners. Endlessly. I believe in my heart, and through personal experience, the most basic of tenets, as Peter W Cookson, Jr. said, is:
Children do not learn when they are afraid or in emotional conflict. Creating a safe, warm, clean and organized classroom is the foundation for learning.
Truth's simplicity so often is easily ignored.

I ask you to remember the last time you were in a group setting, perhaps at work, perhaps at a happy hour, and someone proved what you said was wrong, dismissed you, said, "Actually, no that isn't true, I just returned from Kathmandu..." or "No, Sally, that is not what the client request for their promotional marketing blitz. Did you read the specs?"

How did you feel? Anger? Embarrassment? Shame? Dismissiveness? Now, realize that children are in this situation, all day long, with different teachers, different personalities, and the ever present jury of their peers.This is just one, minuscule aspect of safety in the classroom.

Back to my student teacher, this simple tenet, was difficult to teach. In my opinion, it is partially my inexperience at teaching a teacher and - as Cookson mentioned - how one views teaching will dictate the how and why a teacher does what he does. I am grateful to my student teacher, for showing me - from the most preciously limited bird's eye perspective of a classroom - what it is like to be a student receiving the regulations and instructions of a teacher. Granted, a student teacher is in her very right a student. Many teachers will tell you that who they were as a student teacher is light years from who they are after their second, or even first year teaching. The specifics of this one teacher simply served as a momentary insight into the world of studentdom and how much they receive, tolerate, and enjoy. And how this precious information can be leveraged for the benefit of all. And it starts -- the inception of learning blossoms - when one feels safe to grow.

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