Among a family of educators, some of whom taught and others who have dedicated a good portion of their lives to supporting educators, I’ve always been a bit of an outlier. At the midpoint in my life, I find myself in a career renaissance, jumping on the family bandwagon to help in their mission to work with educators to provide resources to empower the next generation of learners.
Since joining my family in our education-focused family business, I’ve been trying to self-assess. What is my purpose? What do I have to give to the education community? How can I relate to the challenges of teachers and their students? What personal experiences do I have to draw from to make all of this relatable?
Having attended an event featuring Carl Anderson regarding conferring, Carl taught the audience lessons that I don’t think he intended to teach. Isn’t that the mark of someone who is not just a good teacher, but a great teacher? Providing a lesson that resonates at different levels with your students. Carl taught his audience that the skills gained as a teacher apply to both the context of “real life” and the “classroom of life,” and if followed will serve to make you a more effective leader, teacher and better human.
1. Relationships matter. Connecting with your students, along with anyone whom we interact, creates immeasurable value. Value in the human connection. And, value in understanding what makes your students, and those in the world-at-large, tick.
2. Practice, practice, practice. Like anything in life, students need to practice to hone their skills. And, with this practice, they will uncover remarkable skills, some of which they never knew they were capable of accomplishing.
3. Conquer things in small chunks. Conferring with students does not take a ton of time. It’s exercising your students’ minds in short spurts with a personal trainer. And, for this, I commit to getting on the treadmill ten minutes a day.
4. Baby steps. Give yourself a break. Give your students a break. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Just begin building it stone-by-stone.
5. Tone and body language are important. Even when speaking about uncomfortable topics. Making students, and adults, feel comfortable helps the exchange and allows for open dialog.
6. Stay in your lane. People in society have roles. It is your job as a teacher to discover, assess and teach. Students need to learn and own their work. This is a lesson that applies to interacting with colleagues as well.
7. Model your actions after people “better than you” to create your own style. Whether it be professional athletes, parents, or teachers, we learn through imitation. Use mentor texts for your students. And model good, calm demeanor so they understand how those in a position of authority can quietly seek respect.
8. Feedback is a gift. We all crave feedback. Especially students; even those who don’t act like they do. But it needs to be provided in a respectful and constructive manner to be effective.
9. Organization is required for success. Keep lists. Take notes. Help your recall. And, at the very least, create a mirage of control.
10. Work on one thing at a time. Take things in bite sized chunks – for you and your students.
Of course, this all takes time to perfect, but the simplicity of Carl’s message, the logic behind it, and applicability to all aspects of life is key.