Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Teaching Just By Being
A few weeks ago, we were working on syllables. The game had pictures of 1-syllable and 2-syllable words. Kids looked at the picture, identified the word, and decided how many claps we did as we said the word. (cat=1 clap; pizza=2 claps) One picture/word gave us some difficulty: EAR. The kids kept trying to use 2 claps on that word. Now, I live in Tennessee and "ear" is often said with 2 syllables. But really it is only 1 syllable.
I smiled all afternoon at the memory of 2 claps for "ear." But I also realized that, while helping them clap once, I had to pronounce the word carefully, differently than I may say it otherwise. The kids wanted to use 2 claps because that's the way they had heard (and maybe said) the word. I had to be a good example of how the word was said, with 1 syllable.
Now, apply this experience to teaching overall. The kids in that classroom--and the kids in my class at church--learn more by observing me than listening to me. They learn how to treat others by the way I treat them and their friends. They learn how to deal with frustration by the way I handle unexpected challenges. They learn that listening is as important--or more important--than talking when I attentively listen to their stories, problems, fears, and victories (and when I don't talk so much).
My teaching is more than activities and talk. My teaching is living and being. And I must continually ask myself, "What am I really teaching them today?"
Photo from Flickr.com