Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Developing a 'stance' as a teacher - ideas of Robert Fried and William Glasser

Socrates's 'stance' was clear -is yours?
It seems students quickly pick up on the stance of their teachers so it is worth thinking about what's the 'stance' about teaching you want them to pick up? Now is time to think about how you want to come across to your students and fellow teachers.

Robert Fried, in his excellent book 'The Passionate Teacher',  writes about how teachers need to create an atmosphere that makes the students want to be their rooms.

To create a positive learning environment Fried writes that teachers need to satisfy their students basic needs for:

1 Belonging - a feeling it is their class.
2 Identity - that they are recognized as individuals.
3 Empowerment- that they feel they are improving
4 Responsibility to make choices and set own goals.
5 Fun and enjoyment.

Good advice for principals as well?
Every class/school develops its own culture.

When these needs are fulfilled you have a  'learning community'.

The below is a stance of a teacher quoted in Fried's book:

  • 'You are my students and I respect each and every one of you. I'm going to work very hard to help you respect yourselves, each other, and respect me.
  • I care to much about you to let you get away from doing anything but your best - I will help each of you the best I can.
  • I believe you all have talents that nobody has found out about yet - I want to help you discover them and help you build on talents you bring with you.
  • I want to help you develop all the skills you need to do your best work'.
Naturally teacher  actions need to match such words if students are to develop respect, inspiration, high expectations, pride, seriousness of purpose, a positive learning identity and good humour.

Another excellent book is William Glasser's book 'A Quality School Teacher' outlines similar needs to Fried. In this book Glasser writes that classrooms must have six conditions to achieve quality learning:

1 There must be a warm supportive classroom environment where students are to be trusted and their ideas respected.
2 Students must be given meaningful (to them) work.
3 Students must be always asked to do their best work - to do this students need to value that quality work require time and effort.
4 Students need to be helped to evaluate and improve their own work - their must be a constant message that all work can be improved.
5 Pride of achievement makes students feel good.
6 No one is allowed to be destructive to themselves, others or the environment.

The beginning of the school year coincides with the celebration of the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand.  As part of learning about the Treaty the class could draw up a list of teacher and student behaviours required to develop a positive learning community.

Have your students in small groups discuss the below. To add fun have half the class think of teacher  behaviours that turn students off  or  student behaviours that upset teachers..

What behaviours makes a good teacher?  
What behaviours make an ideal student? 
What bits of school do they really like/ dislike?

Complete this attitudinal survey  to gather 'data' of attitudes/mind-sets students bring  about  the various learning areas to your class? This might be the most important thing you do to improve your programmes!!

A class treaty could result from such a dialogue.

Respectful dialogue was the stance that Socrates took with his students. Socrates believed strongly that students needs to be challenged to develop their own thoughts.

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