Author Topic: Teaching Students as If You are a Student!  (Read 2494 times)

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Offline Jiwah

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Teaching Students as If You are a Student!
« on: May 02, 2017, 04:23:54 AM »
Hello Everyone,

I have had experience with individual tutoring and small group workshops and I have found an approach to instantly connect with students and keep them confident and motivated to continue learning.

Instantly establish yourself as a student. As they say, first impressions are extremely important, and for teaching that adage remains true. I have had many experiences where a teacher walks into a classroom and instantly takes away any of the excitement that I had for my first day of class. They would make themselves an authority figure, a stranger, and instill within you not a sense of calmness and trust, but fear.

Is that a teacher? Is authority so important that it should overcome a student's comfortability in the classroom and their ability to learn. Of course not. We as teachers are here to help a student succeed.

Of course this varies by situation, but the idea remains the same, and this kind of attitude can be used throughout the entire semester in order to connect with students and show them that you care and are not solely a judging authority figure that determines whether they pass or fail the class. So, below is a model of something similar that I do with my students:

"Hello, class, how are all of you guys doing today? My name is Jiwah and I am going to be your teacher this semester for this course. I want to make clear however that although I am your teacher, I, like all of you, am a student. I will make mistakes and I may ask you for feedback throughout the semester on how you feel like the course is going and what I can do to improve as an instructor. I am here to teach, but I am also here to learn from all of you so that I may become my best self. All I ask in return is that you give me your attention and respect, and I will do the same for you. I really look forward to getting to know you all throughout this course and I hope that we each can see how much we have grown come break!"

-So, it is lengthy and of course does not have to be so wordy if your style differs from mine. Regardless, I think that stepping down from a higher figure for a minute in order to make students comfortable is important for establishing trust and respect from students. As a student with incredible anxiety myself, I have found this teaching method to drastically improve my overall experience in any given course. A solid relationship between me and a professor really keeps me motivated, wanting to ask questions, and engage more in class.

Tell me what you guys think! Cheers!

Offline Nathaniel Anleitner

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Re: Teaching Students as If You are a Student!
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2017, 02:51:40 AM »
Hey Jiwah,

I think this is a great sentiment to have. The foreign language classes I was most engaged with had friendly teachers. After all, the teacher may be the only person the student knows who uses that language, and by being friendly, I think you could encourage students to speak the language being taught with you in a low tension sort of way.

However, I was wondering how this might differ in East Asian countries where the concept of face is very important. While I haven't ever been in a country like this, I imagine trying to dispel the air of authority could be construed as an action that loses the teacher face. This might hurt your credibility and students might not take you seriously after that. Do you know if this is true or not? If it would be, do you know how you might circumvent it?

Offline mhenehan

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Re: Teaching Students as If You are a Student!
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2017, 03:00:16 PM »
Hi Jiwah,
It seems almost obvious that we are all students, and yet when we walk in, we feel that _responsibility_ to teach, and I think that affects the roles and relationships.  And yet, many academic authors dedicate their books to their students "from whom they have learned so much."  I observed a pronunciation class this semester, and the last thing I said to the students was that I had learned so much from them.  They were surprised - they didn't even really know, and to acknowledge this is great.  Then there's the other direction - students as teachers.  Y'all do this with peer review, etc., but it's good to point it out explicitly.  Sometimes students tell me they learned so much, and I felt like I was teaching less.  I think that task-based teaching is a way that learning can go up at the same time as formal "teaching" backs off.  After 30 years of teaching, this is hard on my ego, but extremely important!
Marie Henehan

Offline Olivia

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Re: Teaching Students as If You are a Student!
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2017, 10:51:12 AM »
I found that this was a great mentality to have when I'm tutoring. When you draw on your past experiences as a student, you're able to better understand how the students wants things to be structured and taught. If you just come at it with the thought of "this is what I need to do and what they need to learn", you miss a great opportunity to help students and keep them engaged. You also can get the students to trust you more when they see you trying to relate to them.