|Me as “pack leader” of the class!!|
Disclaimer: This is probably one of the most IDEALISTIC views on education you will see. I have many times failed miserably in my aims to act as “pack leader” of the classroom. However, I will continue to strive to become the type of teacher that can lead a class to academic victory!!
The student is a creature of great complexity and curiosity, whose moods, actions, strengths, and weaknesses can alter the course of a class and of instruction. In the classroom, it is the student that is the focal point of all activity and instruction, the place where the sun rises and sets. When it comes to instruction, lessons, and even management, the student is king, the one who is served and honored. Teachers are told to differentiate instruction, develop personal philosophies for classroom management, and learn to observe strengths and weaknesses of students. Everything that occurs in the classroom is centered on the needs, intellectual, emotional, and physical, of the student. The student is the consumer in the classroom, and the consumer is honored above all else in the educational economy. However, most students are clueless as to the immense power and sway they hold in what their teachers, their humble servants, do in and out of the classroom.
Several questions arise from this student consumer situation, and the students’ ignorance of the power they hold in the classroom. Why are they kept blinded from their power? Why do they not understand that classroom management occurs for their benefit, for their safety, and for their learning environment? If they knew, would they not realize the importance teachers place on their intellectual, physical, and emotional well being? Would they not be bolder to seek individual attention and extra help? Would they not realize that we are on their side?
There are obvious risks involved in allowing students too much power in the classroom. While letting students know that they are ultimately the consumers to be served in the classroom, students also need to see teachers as the authority figure in the classroom, the one who is to set the boundaries and limits for students to follow in order to serve students best. In high school, it seems the best method of obtaining this authority is by telling students up front why the teacher needs authority, but also acting as the authority figure in the classroom. As my supervising teacher (from my apprenticeship experience) said, “NEVER let them see you sweat.” If a teacher shows students that they know what they are doing and can effectively keep students on track by enforcing the rules consistently, being prepared consistently, and simply looking and speaking with authority. Students respond to teachers who not only ask for their cooperation, but also earn their cooperation in word and action.
A teacher’s goal in the classroom is the success of his or her students, which gives students power that they do not realize they have. They are the focal point of everything teachers do, from classroom management to lesson planning. From my observation in the classroom, when students hear and see the dedication and competence that they teacher has to help them succeed, most students will allow teachers the authority they need to do the job (note, I said MOST…there will always be those whose LAST goal in life is to pass a class…and yes, I have had them in the classroom as well). It is up to the teacher to tell students and show students how important they are in order to gain the students’ confidence in the teacher, and ultimately succeed as teachers.