Monday, May 05, 2008
Teachers, in the course of their work often teach from one of the following four modes:
In this mode the teacher has a clear plan. It may be a road map held in the head, it may be a well prepared lesson plan or some other concrete plan. The teacher is fully alert and has mastered the tools of drawing forth and assisting students to discover. At the same time the teacher is alert to challenges from the students. These challenges come in the form of non-participation, direct challenges to the authority of the teacher or attempts to fragment the unity of the class. Teachers must be have tasted successful experience using all aspects of the skills necessary to manage these challenges and in facilitating successful learning experiences. It requires trust that students have inside themselves potentialities of great value and that one of the purposes of education is to help those potentials blossom.
The lecture mode is probably the most common mode for teachers to operate from. Success in using the lecture mode is conditioned on the teacher knowing the material, having an organized lesson plan and that students:
- want to learn the subject matter
- are willing to learn from the particular teacher
- have the learning skills necessary to benefit from a lecture
- are paying attention
Just Talking Mode
The “just talking mode” is a high risk mode. It is incompatible with both the facilitation mode and with the lecture mode. In this mode the teacher forgets to listen to the background “beat” much like a participant in a drum circle who tunes out of the unity of the group, looses the beat and becomes a counter-productive source of energy. At the same time the teacher looses credibility with the students and energy is taken from the teacher’s ability to either facilitate or be seen as a domain expert.
You Will Conform Mode
This mode is where the teacher (often based on past successful experiences) believes that if a student conforms they will be better off. Based on this, the teacher demands that a student conform to the moment. The risk is that any trust that was previously built between the student and the teacher can be destroyed. Additionally, other students who may have created a bond of trust with the teacher, may view the teacher as “unjustly” putting pressure on a single participant.
Teachers are human. Challenges and opportunities come and go. We all fail sometimes. However, the successful teacher will learn from these mistakes. Understanding these “modes” could help us all become better teachers. The understanding and practice of these skills could be taught in teachers education programs.