In Praise of Students

By Scott Knecht I once visited a teacher’s class that did not go well. We talked afterwards and we both knew it was weak. A month later I visited and it was a much better class. I asked him if he could pinpoint the difference and what had happened in the last 4-5 weeks. I was surprised that he could answer so quickly. He did not hesitate to say that the difference was in his own attitude. He had previously looked at his students as objects, things to make him look better. He stayed frustrated when they did not act like he thought they should so as to maximize his performance. Then he realized what he was doing and decided that he didn’t care how he looked, he only cared about their learning. Things changed almost overnight for him.

So what do you see when you look at your students? In the worst case scenario you could see the enemy, those that oppose you each day and tend to make your life miserable. Of course there are days like that, but if that’s really how you feel then you should polish up your resume and look for other work. If not, misery will be your constant companion as you attempt to teach. The other end of the spectrum is to see nothing but soaring scholars winging their way towards life long successes. Both extremes are misleading.

Here is what we really see: we see people, young and old, just like us who have questions and wonders and worries. They have a whole life outside the classroom.They grow and develop at different rates. They are anxious and are trying to find their place not just in the classroom but in their culture and social circle. They don’t want to fail. No one starts out to fail Read More

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