Today’s episode focuses on 5 critical lessons I have learned from my career as a teacher. There are so many things that we learn as we spend time with children in a parenting or teaching capacity. I was going to call this the TOP 5 LESSONS ABOUT TEACHING, but then I realized that I could not say that these are the most important lessons. There are so many things to learn when you engage in teaching others that I finally just decided that these would simply settle for 5 LESSONS ABOUT TEACHING.
Lesson 1: Children usually see in themselves what we see in them.
Teachers act somewhat like a mirror for children to stare into. That places an immense burden on teachers to see beyond the outer appearances and past performances of the children they stand in front of and an even greater burden on parents to do the same thing.
Before our children can raise their expectations for themselves, we have to find a loving way to expect more from them and then show them how to meet those expectations.
Lesson 2: Failing is a Necessary Part of Education
This world has become fascinated with the idea of everyone winning… and don’t get me wrong, I think that would be a great goal except for the fact that it is completely irresponsible parenting and teaching and governing. Those individuals that have implanted this concept that is completely foreign to the real world are crippling our children.
When my youngest son played flag football a year ago, his team won every single regular season game. They scored more points than anyone else and they allowed the fewest points in the league. When they got to the “Super Bowl” of 1st grade flag football, they fully expected to win. The other team came to play, however, and eventually defeated my son’s team 12-7.
My son was given an opportunity to win the game. It was 4th down and only 30 seconds left in the game. They pitched the ball to my son on an end-around, but instead of taking it to the outside like he had been coached at half-time, he cut to the middle and was tackled.
When the game was over there was only one set of trophies. My son’s team stood and watched this other team receive their trophies and Super Bowl champion shirts. My son took the loss really hard. He said, as we walked toward the car, “Dad, I want a trophy.” He had these huge tears and he was sincerely stinging. There was a part of me that wanted to say, “Let’s go down and get one for you.” (only a small part)
What I said instead was more instructive: “Son, if you want to get a trophy, then you have to win. If you want to win, then you have to listen to your coaches.” I then reminded him of his decision to go to the middle instead of the outside. My wife thought I was horrible and was not about to nominate me for the DAD OF THE YEAR.
This year, however, my son paid much closer attention to his coaches and I could see his determination to pay attention rather than horse-around like some of his teammates. This year, his team won the Super Bowl and they got their trophies. These trophies mean much more to my son because of the fact that he was not awarded some sympathy reward last year.
Lesson 3: It Is Not What We Teach That Matters, But What the Students Learn.
As a teacher, sometimes we might get frustrated because children are not progressing as fast as we had scheduled. It is critical to remember that the real measure of a teacher or the semester is not how much material you covered, but how much material the students understand. Don’t let students miss the bus just because you have a lesson plan and an outline for the week or month. Take your time and be aware of what they are learning and where they are lacking. You are the bus driver and the students are your passengers. It does you no good to get to the end of the homeschool semester and realize that your passengers are not with you.
Lesson 4: Curiosity is the Key to Learning
Sometimes it is frustrating when our children sit and ask questions about everything under the sun, but be careful that you don’t simply dismiss these very important questions.
Children come to life with an innate sense of curiosity. They learn by asking questions and they ask questions about what they are interested in. It is a very simply pattern and the most basic pattern of learning (by far the most effective). As parents—if we are not careful—we can stifle that natural learning pattern and teach our children that they cannot come to us with their questions/curiosities. The problem is that, in most cases, the curiosity does not stop, but our children simply find out places to satisfy their curiosity. They start going to friends or the Internet and who knows what they are going to find there!!!!
Answer every question you can, and be honest about the questions you can’t answer. When your child asks you how the touch screen on your iPhone works, be honest in your lack of technological savvy, but then do some research and find the answer. This will establish an important precedent for your child that says it is okay to admit to not knowing everything. Then teach them by example how to find the answers to difficult questions.
As a parent or a teacher, we must not only tolerate curiosity, but we have to find ways to promote and celebrate it.
Lesson 5: This Might be the Last Lesson You Get to Teach
I had a student in a university online class I teach leave for Thanksgiving Break and then never returned. She was in a disastrous plan crash. Her father was flying the plane when it crashed into the wilderness of Idaho. It was a hard thing for me to process. One day she had been in the “class” posting on the discussion board and submitting her assignments, and then she never came back.
I have asked myself several times since then: “How would I teach this if it was the last time I ever got to teach this group?” “Would I teach this topic this way if I was never going to get to teach it again?” Asking these questions has been a huge blessing to me and to those I teach. I believe it has helped me sharpen my lesson plans when I may have just let them go as they were before.
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Are there lessons that you would put in your top 5 that I missed? Tell me about your top 5 lessons from teaching by leaving a comment below.