A relationship expert once said that during an argument, there’s usually three sides to every story: his side, her side, and of course, the truth. This is something we must definitely keep in mind as teachers. Many educators (especially professors), have been accused of having the biggest egos this side of Mount Rushmore. One of the quickest ways to burn out in education is to refuse to embrace change. Keep in mind whether we want to admit it or not, life moves and changes constantly.
Students are constantly exposed to material we once never dreamed existed. Ironically, although students are exposed to more, they typically know less and are less mature than the generations before. However, that does not discredit the fact that students still bring a unique perspective to our classroom; it’s through their eyes that we can become better teachers.
One useful strategies for maintaining a high level of motivation in the classroom, can come from the Sales industry. Rule #1 in Sales is that in order to bring the customer to where you are (your level of understanding), you must first go to where they are (they’re current level of understanding). In simple terms, you must know your customer (in this case, your student).
Relating this concept to the education arena, you must simply and clearly define your objectives and what you would like to see happen over the course of a semester (or even a brief interaction) with a student, and then you help your students to do the same. In other words, know where YOU want to go, help them find out where THEY want to go, and then come up with a strategy for both of you to get there. In negotiating terms, they call this a win-win solution. Obviously, this strategy can only work if you value the student, and you believe he or she can make you a better teacher.
Students aren’t as concerned with the subject matter itself as they were with how the subject matter is being taught. They are more concerned with the Teachers attitude than the answers they are given. This might be a revelation to many eductators
If you want to become a more productive educator in or outside of the classroom, the key is student input – you must seek it. They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again, but expecting different results. If you listen to and solicit feedback from your students, you won’t have to repeat the mistakes of the past. So value your students and their input; trust me, they hold the keys to your success.