SUBTLE – A Suggestion for Reflection

Michael, Oct 12

A desire to teach can be motivated by many factors; compassion, a desire to serve,  to share, or to dispense knowledge, as well as to achieve status, power over others, a safe job, great holidays or good pay. All the reasons in this panoply of factors, may appear to go from positive to negative, however, in my view they are all the antithesis of the way a teacher should be motivated.

When teachers are “doing teaching” with these attitudes, they are attached to the students emotionally, not professionally. Students come to learn what they need to take them forward, not to connect emotionally with the teacher. Any connection that is emotional should come naturally as a consequence of the learning. Creating a learning environment is a teacher’s job; the only job.

In order to illustrate my point, I will share an anecdote from my student teacher internship: My supervisor, a master of cornering students on the truth, asked me, after a week of my teaching a Grade 4/5 class, how I was experiencing the work. I waxed enthusiastic, declaring how amazing it was, and satisfying, that I felt better and had more energy at the end of the day than I did at the beginning! Looking at me carefully he said, “So, you are a parasite?” Shocked and hurt, I replied,”Why did you say that?” He answered me with, Well, you are sucking the energy out of the students aren’t you? As he walked away, the epiphany occurred wherein I understood the message he had been drilling in to us all year: Give the students what they need, not what you want to give them. It’s not about you; it’s about the learning that is occurring.

Have some fun reflecting on that.

How is your learning environment?

How are you attached to the students?

How can you avoid attachment?

Next week – How do you know what the students need?


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About futerion45

15 years public school grades 2-9. Grades 2/3 4/5 favourites 22 years private ESL school in Vancouver from B2 - Advanced 1/2 Masters in Counselling/ Reflexology practitioner / NLP practitioner Tai Chi

One response to “SUBTLE – A Suggestion for Reflection”

  1. eteaeslconnection says :

    A great post, Michael. How true! Unfortunately, I can’t help but become emotionally connected to my students when I teach. And I somewhat disagree with you in that a teacher should not be compassionate and should not desire to share his or her knowledge or life experience. I think these personal qualities will help to connect the learners with the teacher and will enhance the learning environment as long as actual learning is occurring. However, I agree that the emotional attachments could easily get in the way and become distracting for the students and even destructive for their learning.
    And, also, I tend to feel more energy after teaching a class which I think went well. However, I have also learned not be complacent and think it will always go well or to fall into hopeless despair if it doesn’t.
    In the past 3-4 years, I have been trying to reflect on my teaching. That is, I think, I have been doing it more consciously than in earlier years. I think every teacher should sit down and make a list of his or her needs and how they could be met and then make a list of the students’ needs and how they could be met and finally find the areas in which both sides’ needs could be met. Being true to yourself and your needs while recognizing and respecting the needs of others -this is really the key to any positive social environment. The two SUBTLE things here: knowing yourself and understanding what the students really need (and not only the grammar or vocabulary) to be able to learn. Plus, the teacher still should know the subject well.

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