Friday, July 10, 2015

You Don’t Know What You Are Teaching Your Students

From time to time teachers need a reminder of what they are teaching. Oh not just “we teach students not subjects.” That is certainly true but what is also true is that we teach students more than just subject. What they learn from us is more than what is in the curriculum. This hit home today after an exchange with a former student online.
Back some years ago I was a chaperone on a school field trip. We took a large group of students the the FIRST Robotics championship held, that year, at EPCOT Center in Florida. We were on multiple fights and my group missed a connection and were stuck the night in Atlanta. Me and four (or five?) high school boys. I spent a lot of time on my cell phone talking to parents, hotels, the airline and who ever else. It worked out ok  and we all got home safe and sound the next day. And that was it I thought. Today though one of the boys (now a grown man who travels on business a lot) added a comment to my memory of that trip.
I think the most important thing you ever taught me was how to behave when air travel goes wrong. It's come in handy several hundred times since then.
That is not something I thought about teaching. It sure wasn’t in my syllabus or my job description. I was only thinking about how to take care of my charges. But students notice how we act, what we say, how we treat people and how we handle what life throws at us. I'm glad that I handled things, for the most part at least, pretty well and that what I taught, unintentionally, was apparently good and useful. His comment made my day. Maybe my week.
We aren’t always aware of what students remember from their time with us. So it is important that as the adults in a young person’s life we try to act well at all times. Students learn from what we do as much, if not more, than from what we say,.I’m glad for the reminder.

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