What should be the relationship between teacher and students?

Very impressive talk here by Rita Pierson.

Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.’” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.

These sound good to me.  “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”  This equally applies to adults.  Adults don’t learn from people they don’t like, especially when that is against the will of the adult.

So, isn’t it human nature in socialising, in valuing human relationship?  We all want to build a positive relationship with each other, not only for teacher and student (kids in particular), but throughout our walk of life.

Perhaps, it is difficult to repair a broken relationship, or to say sorry when we have done something wrong to others, whether they are our parents, kids, teachers, relatives, friends, or colleagues.

It’s important to keep a good relationship under all circumstances, as mentioned by Rita: “to understand others before being understood”, a quote from the Seven Habits of Stephen Covey.  But understanding between people is a two way process, and this goes deeper into empathy.

Unfortunately, there are subtle power relationship embedded in any relationship, and such power is never equally distributed between the two parties, especially when there are differences in values and motives in the parties concerned.  So the interests and motives of a teacher and a student is different, and this must be acknowledged.  Do students always try to please the teachers, in order to obtain a higher grade, or marks, or individual attention?

When people have different rights and opinions, conflicts do arise.  And if these conflicts are not resolved constructively, then the relationship goes sour.

Sometimes, one of the biggest hurdles we have is our desire to change others, or influence others, without consideration of the actual needs and feelings or emotional status of others.  We may then need to reflect on how we could make good use of our Emotional and Social Intelligence to manage ourselves and help and support others.

I am often concerned on the “manipulation” that comes out of relationship, in that sometimes, we might be unconsciously manipulating others, or being manipulated, either as a student or a teacher, a boss or a colleague, or a parent or a child.

In other words, teachers and students may fall into the trap of pleasing each others, just for the sake of getting praises and positive feedback in order to survive in the respective role.  The question is: What would I (we) like to get out of this relationship?  And why?

Is relationship building strong in a world where entrepreneurship and excellence comes and counts first?  I don’t know.

Here is my previous post relating to good to great teachers.

Do you make a difference as a teacher?  See this profound answer from an educator.

What makes a good education system and a good teacher?

This post on Gates Foundation study: We’ve figured out what makes a good teacher:

What’s the best way to identify an effective educator?

After a three-year, $45 million research project, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation believes it has some answers.

The most reliable way to evaluate teachers is to use a three-pronged approach built on student test scores, classroom observations by multiple reviewers and teacher evaluations from students themselves, the foundation found.

Benjamin Stewart

Reply on Google Plus:
I would agree with this critique (http://dianeravitch.net/2012/07/05/i-am-puzzled-by-the-gates-foundation/), but admit that the foundation at least asks the difficult questions that need to be addressed in today’s educational system.
My response:

Glad to learn your views, and I shared and agreed with the critique.  My concerns about those studies are:

1. Equating a good pass or score in the test to quality education is a misunderstanding about learning at this digital age. If that is what education is all about, then every effective teacher would be teaching to the TEST, to ensure the students pass the tests at the end, through repeated exercises, quizzes.  Does it sound no difference to our traditional education (or where most of us have been educated)? What are the relevance of the test to the life skills required in society?  What does it mean to have 100% correct, matching the answers to the model answers?  Is that how a great teacher is defined?

2. Have we learnt through a Taylorist approach towards scientific management (or Taylorism), by applying it straight into education – based on the best teacher and best teaching approach?
Have we defined scientific education, where education is standardized with lesson plans, with deep down to earth “quality instruction” where the teachers are expected to carry out?  What is the assumption with such an approach?  Students learn best with the best instruction, by the best instructors?  May be, you could train up such an instructor by having more supervision, leading them to follow a routine instruction in a classroom learning situation.

3. Have the studies explored why the students were not improving their performance in class?  Was it due to the “poor performance of the teachers” only?  How about the actual needs of the students, and the reasons why these students don’t perform well?

4. The best teachers are those who could support the learners to learn, based on these learners’ needs and abilities. However, I don’t think the learners would improve their performance solely because of those “best teachers”.  Learners would improve their performance if they have the “how to, chance to, and want to” improve.

5. So, this requires a significant paradigm shift in education, where the learners grow their knowledge and skills in a supportive and open learning environment.  This would apply to the teachers too, where teachers need to “LEARN” together with their learners in order to enhance and enrich their learning experience.

6. Relying the improvement based solely on the examination scores is really missing the point in education.  Isn’t it time to empower both the teachers and learners in such an education system to flourish, instead of telling the teachers that they are not good enough in teaching, or privatizing the education to the “better provider or teachers” who could raise the score of the students.

7. Is it why there aren’t enough progress in education?


How to measure the effectiveness of professional development activities

This post on measurement on the effectiveness of professional development attracts my attention.

Stephen commented in his OLDaily:

And the good point he make is that the effectiveness (if you want to call it that) of a learning event isn’t measurable at the time of the event – you have to wait for the cycles to complete.

Can the effectiveness of professional development be measured?  How and When?

I have composed a post on Teacher Training and classroom teaching here.  I have also shared my views and perspectives on Cooperative Online Education here.

I think an objective measurement of the effectiveness of professional development needs to be based on the context of application of the skills learnt and the teaching or learning situations.  An alternative assessment could be based on the learning achieved both by the educators and learners, throughout the course delivered by the educators, and after the course, in the form of research and course review.  This allows for a learning development for both the educators and learners rather than a “judgment” on a course based solely on the “effectiveness” of the professional activities.

Besides, the sole reliance of professional development is often not enough, especially in a complex learning environment.

What needs to be considered in mind could be illustrated with the pictures below:

How about this?

Here is the Networked Teacher (Photo: Flickr source: Alec Courus)

On Emergent Learning:

Integration of learning by Terry Anderson