Anyone can teach bright, gifted children.
A bright child does not show one how to teach.
A bright child does not really need a teacher. Just show her or steer him in the right direction and they will go from there, self-motivated. The gifted child already knows there are many windows from which to look out on the world.
This is a minority group, “the gifted.”
Most of us are just average, or even below average, given the popular paradigm. We have to pay close attention; we make lots of mistakes; we have to do any task over and over, and then we get it, and even excel.
A true teacher knows that you earn your chops when you are able to reach those children who are just below the margin, those who fit within the lowest common denominator.
While it is believed that there are several learning styles — auditory, visual, a combination of both, by example– there are those learners who do not fit into any of those categories, and contrary to popular belief they are not dumb or stupid or any other derogatory term we often throw at those learners who need more attention and time to figure out and solve the problem.
A true teacher knows the first and most important rule of teaching is Compassion. You have to like and believe in the innate ability of your students. You have to have as your core belief that everyone is teachable, and that as a teacher you will do what is necessary to not just motivate, but ensure that all your students excel. You will find the way and work with the individual rather than the group.
The second cardinal rule is Expectation. You have to have clear and high expectation of your student, and let her know that these are your standards and you expect her to rise to the occasion, with tutelage and guidance.
The third rule is Encouragement/Perseverance. Even when your student does not appear to be mastering set skills, you must encourage him to keep trying, and you also must help him to explore alternatives.
The fourth rule is as important at the first and that is Trust the Process — there are no mistakes, just the process of trial and error that leads to discovery and results. All too often when students make a mistake, we make them feel ashamed, as if she is a failure, rather than exploring avenues that will lead to the desired answer.
Learning is a process like walking –it takes many trials, falling, stumbling, holding on, picking yourself up, gaining balance and confidence– then you learn the trick, how to balance while putting one foot in front of the other, and after a while you don’t even think about it; it’s encoded.
We are all teachers, not just to our children and our colleagues, but to everyone we meet. Everyday we teach someone something, and every day we are learners too –someone is teaching us something.
What kind of teacher are you modeling? Are you modeling good teaching?
Maybe you are a quick learner, and therefore get impatient with others who do not process information as quickly as you.
Maybe you believe there is only one kind of learner, and those who do not process information as you do are not smart.
A good teacher is not arrogant or cocky or smug.
A good teacher is often a very good person to be around.
A good teacher allows compassion to be her guide.
If you keep having poor students or you are surrounded by people who are not as competent as you, then maybe you are the cause, and you are not such a good teacher after all or you are not modeling excellence.
Even when you don’t say it out loud or directly to your student, s/he knows how you feel about her/him; it is evident in your very demeanor.
If you want someone to excel then treat him/her with respect; speak words of encouragement; model good practices and be open to multiple ways to get at the answer.
We are all teachers, and we are teaching others all the time by our behavior and the words we speak.