BlogElul – Trust
I consider teaching to be a pretty important trust. It’s my gift and it’s what I’m meant to be doing. Mostly, I believe that the kids come first and regularly sacrifice little things like sleep, fun activities and oh, say, breathing to it. I encourage my students to contact me any time they need, and I give them all the extra help I can.
It’s an approach that not everyone will take, and I’m not exactly advocating it as a healthy one (I keep thinking I’ll catch up one of these days.) There are many teachers who build excellent rapport and maintain a fun (possibly even more fun than mine – I go for as much learning as possible and believe testing accomplishes that more than fun sometimes) classroom, and yet keep very firm limits and boundaries around their teaching. That is an excellent way to teach.
My approach is one that I want to base on trust. I want to trust my students to do their very best with their abilities, 100% of the time. I want my students to trust me to provide them with the best learning possible, 100% of the time. That’s what I need that relationship to be – one of trust, in each other, in our abilities and in the subject we are learning. It may not be the right approach but it is what I have.
Being human, I don’t accomplish this very often. I forget to do things, I get overwhelmed, I fall asleep – sometimes, I find I’m laughing at myself for how behind I am. This month, I’ve done something I had never ever done before. I said no to a student who was struggling with knowledge – in fact, I said no to her parents. The child has a disability that I am not the best qualified person to treat, and I said so. It was hard. I hate having limitations. It was nevertheless completely necessary if I was to maintain my trust. I hope to be able to keep that up.
When I accept those limitations on my ability, own up to them and speak them, that’s essential. When I push myself past those limitations in some areas and achieve more than I ever thought possible, that’s pretty exciting too.
It’s true for my students too. It’s amazing how much kids learn when you trust them to, you know. Mostly, we project the most horrid stupidity onto children. When I tell my students, “you are good at this; I believe completely in your ability to finish this question”, they are shocked! That shouldn’t be the case. The material I’m teaching is relatively simple, interesting in and of itself, helps one see the world in a new way and lets people go back to all those fun puzzle solving days in childhood. Yay! Why wouldn’t the average intelligent young human being be able to do that?
Most of the students I discover can. Some need more time and effort to be able to do so – they have limitations they need to accept. So, we talk about being proud of that 60 or 70%, we say “you need extra time and support – I give extra time and support!” Most students however, can put forth that effort and totally succeed in an area that once had baffled them – I love that! It helps confirm for me that teaching is a trust, one that I have to work at but also, one that I can get strength from.