The Bow Tie Boys

The Bow Tie Boys

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Becoming "One with the Students"

There are countless puns, jokes, and comments that state in order to be good at something, you have to become one with that something. Although many of these comments are intended to be funny, they have a deep meaning. If you want to do a job well, you have think about the purpose of your job and consider what it would be like to receive the product of your job. This thinking can propel the product and hence, the job itself. This idea is directly applicable to teaching, with teachers being felt connected to students and thinking about lesson plans from a students point of view.

I have two examples that stand out to me where mentors didn't become one with their students. One of them is from my perspective as a mentor, the other one as a mentee.

The first example involves Sunday School, which is Christian education that goes on at my church. I am a volunteer teacher for Sunday School, and I teach the kindergarten class. Sunday School is about an hour long and for the first 15 or so minutes, the kindergarten through 5th grade classes do an opening together. During this opening time, all the students will sit on the floor to receive some sort of quick lesson then do an activity regarding the lesson. However, I am the only teacher who will participate with the students and sit down with them. All the other teacher stand in a semi-circle around the sitting students, a few of them on their phones, oblivious to what is going on. I am being somewhat biased toward my class but my class is far more behaved than the others during this opening time. I speculate this is due to the fact that I am among my students, not outside of them. After the opening, the classes split up and do individual activities, so I don't know what goes on in the other classes during this time. But I do know that during opening, the teachers are almost completely disconnected from their students.

The other example I have is a general categorization of my past sports coaches. Now, I loved all of those coaches in the moment however, looking back, there was one thing that a few of them never did. Some of my coaches never participated with us in practice and just stood on the sidelines. Few of my coaches that stood on the sidelines were actually injured and couldn't participate to the greatest extent. Looking back now, I have slightly favored the coaches that were more than willing to jump in during a practice over those who weren't. While the coaches participated, I felt more motivated and supported, and felt they could understand what we had to do each day. While the coaches didn't participate, I felt that they were disconnected from us and couldn't understand what we went through, making their sometimes very supportive comments feel bland.

In school, some of my classes involve the teacher in non-meaningful ways. These usually consist of the teacher sitting in the front of the room, spectating students as they work. This type of participation creates a vibe that the teachers are significantly above the student, not equal with the student. On the other hand, if the teacher works with the students and is constantly moving around and participating in the activities, the students feel that the teacher is on their side. Teachers should do what they teach, meaning, if you teach science, participate in labs. In the words of Penny Kittle,
“I now believe you really can’t teach writing well unless you write yourself” (Write Beside Them, 2008). A teacher should do what they teach, not just teach it. When a teacher participates with their students, the students feel that the teacher actually has something to say and overall will provide more attentive  students. In many cases, "students don’t realize people often give them more information than do books or encyclopedias"(Seeking Diversity, 1992). Students will sometimes not realize how important and instrumental teachers are if the teacher doesn't make an effort to become one with the students.

The fix to this problem is simple, participate in as many activities in your class. If there is an activity that a teacher doesn't want to participate in, then the students will probably not want to participate either. When designing lessons plans, consider whether you as the teacher would enjoy the plan.  In addition, participate in as many activities as a student and judge whether or not you liked it and whether it is good enough to repeat. By participating as a student in lessons, the teacher can easily see what works and what doesn't, and the students will respect the teacher far more.

Works Cited:

Kittle, Penny. Write beside Them: Risk, Voice, and Clarity in High School Writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2008. Print.

Rief, Linda. Seeking Diversity: Language Arts with Adolescents. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Educational, 1992. Print.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this wonderful post Joseph. Yes, we cannot ask students to do what we are not willing to do. I love your examples and the quote from Penny Kittle with the message that "a teacher should do what they teach, not just teach it." Great post