by Tracy Rosen, teaching & consulting since 1996, blogging about it here since 2007. All views are my own.
This post is going to be about an excerpt from Stephen Downe’s blog summary of Michael Wesch’s talk at D2L Fusion. Wait, you think that was a bit confusing? Before I get into the meat of this post, let’s take a moment to recognize exactly how I found these words.
This morning I decided it was time to update a few things. Many of my networks still had me as living in Montreal, QC, which I moved away from about 6 weeks ago. (Facebook won’t let me make the change, it apparently won’t let you list a current city that it doesn’t recognize and, well, Bainsville is not exactly the largest speck on the map.)
After doing that I decided to update my blogroll (go see the new ‘hot blogs‘, they really are), and then I decided to change up my featured blog posts (those are the ones in the black strip at the top of the blog). So, as I was reading through some of my favourite posts to determine which ones to add to the list, I also read through the comments. I had forgotten about Heidi Pence, and there she was, commenting on ‘Who Are Teachers?’. So I clicked through to her blog, Think, Think, Think and found A New Beginning, a post about what is on a lot of our minds as we get past the middle point of each summer: the year to come, where I came across this sentence, attributed to Dan Meyer:
It’s basically about shifting from getting people to love you, to you loving them.
So, I clicked on over to Dan’s blog to see the context and found its attribution to Michael Wesche. And yay, there was a link so, of course, I clicked through it and found where the sentence began – with Stephen Downes. It is embedded in a lengthy blog summary of a talk by Michael Wesche. So, I can only with certain accuracy attribute it to Stephen Downes, awesomely inspired my Michael Wesche. (Yes, I am a bit of a research geek. A bit.)
This is basically what that all looked like:
Ok. That being recognized, here is the meat, snipped from Whatever by Stephen Downes at Half an Hour:
…her hairdresser said, “Love your audience and they’ll love you back.” Instead of focusing on self, she focused on the beauty of the audience and the whole event. And I allowed myself to do the same thing.
I never let that leave me. I would start with that. I would start with loving my students. And it’s striking how much my teaching has changed in five years, as a result of that. It’s basically about shifting form getting people to love you, to you loving them. It has four parts (Fromm, 1956):
It requires all four. For example, caring without the rest is like patronizing. Respect without the rest is idolizing. The four together are true long. And focusing on that, instead of focusing on your performance, opens you up to your audience. It makes the walls go away.
Be genuinely interested, caring, kind, and loving to your students. Heidi’s going to be mindful of this come September, I am as well. I can’t imagine teaching any other way. If you don’t do it with love, why at all?
I appreciate how he framed it – teaching really isn’t about being liked. Some of the teachers I have worked with in the past who have had the most difficulty in terms of classroom management and getting students to perform were overly worried about whether or not their students liked them. Of course it’s nice to be liked. I know I would generally prefer to be a well-liked person than a poorly-liked person. I still find myself at times thinking, ooh – but that won’t be popular, they may not like that (and by extension, me) but teaching is not about that. It is about loving your students and caring for what happens to them both in and out of the classroom. And then it is about making sure all of your decisions are, if not based in, at the very least touched by that love.
It’s a lifelong learning process, keeping that frame in place.
Edit —> Added, a few hours later.
Look what just showed up in my feed reader from Kelly Hines. I had to include it here, it’s so timely. There are no accidents.
So, no, I don’t teach like my hair is on fire. I don’t really think that Rafe Esquith does either. He teaches like his heart is on fire, and that’s the greatest thing a teacher can offer his/her students. And when you are reading about astounding things that others are doing, don’t get overwhelmed by the how’s. Focus on the why’s. When you do that, you will find inspiration to light the fires of your students.