- Well Known, Well Loved, Well Taught: The Foundational Truths of Teaching
For the Whole of Their Life.
Well Known, Well Loved, Well Taught: The Foundational Truths of Teaching
There are some well-known sayings that travel around the world of teaching. Things like, 'you can't teach a child you don't know', 'they won't care how much you know until they know how much you care', and 'teach students stuff, don't teach stuff to students'. Whilst these can at times seem like they are cliches, I firmly believe that they are axioms that hold significant truth; and if the heart behind each of these is followed completely, they hold a key to success for teaching and learning in today's educational journey.
These are the truths that today's teachers should make every effort to adhere to:
We need to know the students we work with.
Every student has their own story — their family background, experiences, hobbies and interests are part of their unique make up. Students have strengths, skills, dreams and desires that also make them unique. Beyond that, we firmly believe that each individual is hand-crafted by a God who has made us all for a unique purpose, and loves us dearly (Psalm 139:13, Jeremiah 29:11).
If this is what we believe, then this should be reflected in our practice as teachers. We should endeavour to know and understand the unique gifts of each child we teach. We should know what they are good at, we should know what they struggle with, and we should be able to have conversation with each child about how they can leverage their strengths to give them every chance of succeeding.
In the journey of unlocking each student's potential, a significant difference is made when the teacher in the room really knows their students.
Teen Brains Under Construction: Navigating the Craziness — Have you ever asked your teenager the reasons why they have done something and you are met with the reply “I don’t know?” Chances are, they do not actually know the reasons for why they have just said what they said, why they had that emotional outburst or why they have just participated in that risk-taking behaviour.
We need to be teachers that genuinely care.
Everybody struggles at times, particularly when learning brings 'stretching'. Learning a new skill (whether it is a physical skill like learning to do something with a ball, learning a mental skill like a formula or algorithm; or something 'soft' like critical thinking and communication) is challenge and a challenge is, by definition difficult. As teachers it is our job to take students on the journey through this challenge day after day, moment after moment. So we should not be surprised when students struggle at times with learning these new skills. One of the most positive contributing factors for students as they continue to develop their new skills is the presence of trusted, highly-skilled adults as facilitators of that learning.
One of our greatest challenges as teachers is the fact that young people today are built with the skill to be able to sense whether the people around them are genuinely interested in them; they can tell when someone is teaching purely as a job, as opposed to teaching because they genuinely care about the student as a human, and about their future. So, it is vitally important that we as teachers genuinely care for the incredible young people we teach.
We are teaching students, not subjects.
For a long time, this phrase has been a source of discussion in academic circles regarding education. The important truth is, we need teachers who know their subject 'inside and out'. We need teachers who are passionate about the subject they teach and can guide young people through the intricacies that can be gaunt within each subject. However, it is more important that we as teachers are outstanding educators, as opposed to being masters of a subject.
It is more important that we are facilitating and guiding young people in the intricacies of how to learn, rather than being able to teach them specific facts and skills related to a subject. There is another old saying that applies here, 'give a man a fish, and he eats for a day... teach a man to fish and he eats for life'.
It is no small thing to be trusted with the education of a young person. We get to be a part of the journey of moulding today's young people into the influencers, decision-makers and leaders of tomorrow. It is important in the middle of all of this that we remember, that God is more interested in who our students are becoming, rather than what they know, when they have become everything they will be. This is the most important call of a teacher's ministry, to be a part of the journey of moulding a person's character; it is something that we should put every effort into, and perhaps it is something that should shape who we are, and the way we live our life in front of our students.
Mr Matt Connett
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