Monday, December 3, 2012
High School Teacher Larry Ferlazzo’s blog posting on this subject has gained a wide readership. Here is his view on engaging students, particularly students who are difficult to engage:
Teachers' challenge is to work alongside our students, to know their interests and goals, and to develop trusting relationships that help students connect their learning to their goals in a way that motivates from within.
Here is a brief summary of his “eight things skilled teachers think, do, and say.” His entire blog post is worth reading.
What Skilled Teachers Can Think
1. Remember that authoritative beats authoritarian.
Being authoritarian means wielding power unilaterally to control someone, demanding obedience without giving any explanation for why one's orders are important. Being authoritative, on the other hand, means demonstrating control, but doing so relationally through listening and explaining.
2. Believe that everyone can grow.
3. Understand that power isn't a finite pie.
If I share the power I have, that doesn't mean I'll have less. In fact, the pie will get bigger as more possibilities are created for everyone.
What Skilled Teachers Can Say
4. Give positive messages.
Teachers are human, and we make plenty of mistakes. There is no reason why we shouldn't apologize when we do.
What Skilled Teachers Can Do
6. Be flexible.
Being flexible might be the most important thing teachers can "do" to help students who challenge us—in fact all students—to get past whatever challenges of their own they confront.
7. Set the right climate.
At school, baseline rewards might include fair grading, a caring teacher, engaging lessons, and a clean classroom.
8. Teach life lessons.