Below is some advice about being a ‘teacher’ – I hope it’s taken in the spirit in which it’s given.
How to teach your child
You teach your child the same way my Grandmother made scones. She washed her hands clean, dried them thoroughly, took the butter out of the fridge, sifted the flour twice, used a knife to mix in the butter and with a ‘lightness of touch’ quickly whisked in the milk with the knife and gently kneaded the dough without any more than ‘just enough’ presses. She prepared the sharp metallic ring with a little dry flour and quickly cut out the scones and used the left over dough to form a last scone, for testing. Using a brush, she would quickly brush each one with milk and put the tray of scones into the oven on the middle shelf until they had just turned brown. Practised and thoughtful, wiser than she knew.
Prepare yourself by coming clean and being honest. If you don’t know something that your child wants to learn then discover it together.
Be mindful that you’ll need the ingredients, such as rest, peaceful mind, ability to put the needs of the pupil first. Just as the scones required a gentle touch, so does your child.
My Grandmother used a knife because it caused the least disruption to the dough. Maybe being close to your child comforts them, maybe they don’t like it at all, either way you need to respect that for your child, your pupil, to be true to their nature and perform at their best, how you treat them will have an effect.
How much you talk, how you talk, what you say will have an effect. If you take the time to get to know your child then you will know how to be an effective teacher, a teacher who has a pupil that learns. My Grandmother understood the nature of flour, the temperature of butter and milk, what happens when you are too rough or miss a step. She was also very well practised and although I never heard her admit it I’m sure her first scones were not as nice as those I had as a child.
Teaching takes time, be patient with yourself, be attentive to yourself, reflect and take notes, don’t be afraid to ask your child for advice as it’s one of the most effective methods for improving your teaching. The testing scone my Grandmother made was always a little tougher than the others but that was the one she always ate. If that was fine the rest were good.
Allow the experience to show you parts of yourself that may have made you feel uncomfortable as it’s a good opportunity for you to learn and become a better teacher; the measure of which is learning.
Here are some last thoughts and information for you. I wish you much luck and happy learning together:
- Leave your ego at the door . . . teaching is about learning, not about you being a ‘Teacher’.
- Never be afraid to be wrong . . . mistakes are learning opportunities and your pupil needs to also not fear mistakes. Show no embarrassment as there is no need to be embarrassed. Demonstrate turning around these natural situations into opportunities to grow and learn.
- Create the right conditions for learning . . . pay attention to what works and what doesn’t.
- Be prepared, have a plan, think before you act . . . and then be prepared to let your plans go when your pupil gets hooked into learning something else. It is more important that the child is learning, not that you are following your notes. Remember this is not about you, it’s about them.
- When you observe your pupil keep a note of when they learn something naturally that you had been preparing to teach them later on. You can now ‘tick that off’ as something learnt. Remember it’s not about ‘teaching’ it’s about ‘learning’.
- Follow the learning, follow the child, follow the interest. Learning is never a one size fits all scenario. We all learn differently, about different things in different ways at different times. How you teach is to ‘follow the learner and follow the learning’.
- COMMUNICATION IS TEACHING. Communication requires more than words, it is understanding, comprehension, application. It’s dynamic, subtle, quiet and loud. It is unique between two people, between a group, within yourself. Communication between teacher and pupil is the true ‘lock and key’ to teaching effectively. You can have a brilliant idea, but unless you can communicate effectively that idea cannot be fully shared. Words are not always necessary in communication; good communication feels like ‘being connected to each other’. A fundamental component is honesty and trust. Be honest and trust that your pupil will eventually understand. An example may be that your pupil shows interest in something, you ask a thoughtful question which generates a discussion which leads to researching that topic. These occasions are organic and are what classroom teachers crave! There is precious little time to conduct these conversations with every pupil in a class of 30 pupils! You really do have a wonderful opportunity to help your child to learn deeply, broadly and widely!
- Patience. If you are working with someone who has only been alive for 7 or 8 years remember they have not had your years, your experience, they don’t know what you know. Especially for young people, they have been a human on earth for a significantly short amount of time compared to you. Exercise patience as learning takes time. Unrealistic, unfair or unjust expectations will erode trust, respect and communication between you. They will undermine your efforts.
The quality of the connection between a child and their primary caregivers is what provides the framework for self-esteem in that child. Self-esteem becomes the courage to take risks, learn and grow. This becomes self-reliance and in turn the ability to take care of others. How you treat your child will have an impact on how they treat their child and so on. Be the best that you can be: be the most honest, loyal, real, loving, generous, forgiving, compassionate person you can be. Be the example of what that is, because whether you are conscious of it or not, you are teaching them. THIS is how to ‘be a good teacher’, this is how you teach your child – through who you are when you’re with them.