Teaching is the only major occupation of man for which we have not yet developed tools that make an average person capable of competence and performance. In teaching we rely on the “naturals,” the ones who somehow know how to teach.
— Peter F. Drucker
Years ago, a professor I knew wrote a book something to the effect of “teachers are created, not born.” I argued that point many times. And to some degree I still do. I still believe that some personalities just do not lend themselves to the classroom.
BUT…. I find myself in a place that requires me to do my best to create a teacher. I’ve had student teachers before and for the most part it has gone well, we’ve had personalities that have meshed and we have worked as a team. I am not a shy person. I am, by nature, a collaborator. I may not have time for much small talk, but ask me a question about how I’m going to teach “The Diary of Anne Frank” this week and I can talk to you for an hour or more. My student teacher this year… not so much. She is very shy. Painfully shy.
So, we’ve set some goals. Failure and misery are not options.
Future teachers, some advice…
1. Make an effort to make eye contact. This shows me that you care about what you are talking about and you are confident that you have something to share.
2. Practice your teacher voice. A teacher voice is not volume; it’s control and demanded respect… kind of like that one eyebrow raised when Mama caught you attempting to get away with something. It tells the students you are a force to be reckoned with. Don’t let them talk over you.
3. Be firm. I don’t expect you to have superb classroom management; there are still days when I don’t have great management. BUT, if the students are talking while you are instructing… just stop, give the stare… count down, turn off a set of lights… do something to make them know that being rude is NOT acceptable.
4. Be pro-active. Come up with some ideas that you think we can try together… or at least ask questions about why we do things the way we do them….. and if I don’t have a better answer than, “because I’ve done it that way for 10 years”… call me on it… I’m open to all of your ideas. Besides, if you talk to me… we both might learn something.
So… I don’t know the answer to my own question…. I guess I can make arguments both ways. I still think I was created to be a teacher. But I’m not totally opposed to the idea that we can make teachers, sometimes, too…
Hope this helps somebody out there 🙂