Shakespeare wrote ‘All the worlds a stage’* a thought that every teacher should embrace because: All teaching is acting. The teacher is also script writer, director, choreographer, stage- manager, producer, in- house psychologist/social worker and educator. Being a teacher is very difficult indeed. One consequence of this is that you need a stage presence, a persona, facilitating learning. Reframing the immortal insight, “The medium is the message”** the teacher is the learning activity.
Children are immature.*** Only some children are self- motivating. They didn’t choose the institution and, especially, they didn’t choose you. Actors wow their audience and you should wow your pupils. The teacher must make learning so attractive that children will want to come through your classroom door. You have to wow them because they are the ultimate niche audience; captive but not captured. Your audience is yours for a year and not just a couple of hours. Enjoy their company and they may enjoy yours.
Children live in a world of multi- layered, colourful, fast moving images. Their environment is addictive; learning should also be addictive. Be cheerful. Who wants to spend (compulsory) time with a nag? Cheerfulness is a skill: Practise. Practise on those who know you best and watch its impact on their attitude towards you. Listen to your own voice. The children are forced to listen to it so make it interesting. Better: Learn to shut up and listen to them. Children love talking. Create praise- giving opportunities, encourage them, lash Disraelian flattery**** on them but never inflict sarcasm. (Or are you that unique person who believes that searing criticism is motivating?)
Being relentlessly positive and cheerful is extremely difficult and wearing but the rewards are stupendous. Soon you will see that the children will share your educational values and will want to learn your skills. Making effective use of this is the next phase in you becoming a great teacher.
*As you like it
** Marshall MacLuhan The Medium is the Message: an inventory of effects (1967)
*** Labelling them ‘students’ does not make them mature.
**** Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister 1874- 1880 wrote, “Everyone likes flattery; and when you come to Royalty you should lay it on with a trowel.” Replace ‘royalty’ with children and you get my drift.