As you read through the following pairs of descriptors, you may see yourself (or aspects of you) more than once. We sure do. This list of ways we approach teaching is both diagnostic and prescriptive. Each point proposes a shift in our awareness or the development of skill so we can teach and be nourished doing it.
Read this list on another level, too: it’s not just about your approach to–or assumptions about–teaching. It’s also about your approach to life. If you play with these shifts in the arena of teaching, you may find that transformation spills over into other areas of life as well.
- Some assume that their students are needy and that needy people will suck them dry.
Others know that we’re all needy, but develop both the compassion and the boundaries to serve without being drained.
- Some feel needy and approach teaching as beggars: Like me–Pay me–Listen to me… Even just a little? Please??
Others develop a sense of their right to teach, to serve, to be heard and to exchange value. And their students benefit.
- Some are arrogant: their experience, intelligence, or knowledge separates them from others.
Others let their experience, intelligence, and knowledge fuel their curiosity, connection, and humility and teach from those.
- Some overprepare: they obsess over their teaching and exhaust themselves even before they start.
Others make room for their anxiety, knowing it can’t be quelled by overpreparation, and prepare for their students, not for their fears.
- Some underprepare: they wing it every time, and shame themselves because “I should’ve done better.”
Others use their spontaneity skillfully, building on a base of solid planning to serve in a way that makes them proud.
- Some are afraid of the “difficult” students: they don’t quite know how to work with certain people.
Others prize the students who challenge them most as their greatest teachers, and breathe into the scratchy places where needs might not get met.
- Some think they need to learn more and more and more to have the right to teach.
Others remain students throughout their lives, but are moved by inspiration rather than inadequacy.
- Some don’t teach even though they’ve heard the call, for one or more of the above reasons. They haven’t found their way to the teacher’s seat.
Others seek the support, inspiration, and tools to create satisfying teaching experiences even while they’re still entirely human.
By Jennifer Louden and Michele Christensen, creators of TeachNow.