Props, Supports and Prescriptions.
As teachers, as trainers, as people in this world, what are we to those around us? Are we there to guide? To lead? To tell? To insist?
It’s a dangerous assumption to make that we, as educators, are here to mould those we work with into our own vision of what makes a good teacher or a perfect variety of English, or even the best type of learner.
I have written about this before, about this element of control which we must be so careful not to take advantage of in our work as teacher educators, but I have been brought back to thinking about this once again, and I find it hard not to get passionate about my belief that we are definitely not here to control, but to guide, to aid development, to enable, not to proscribe, prescribe or insist.
As a language learner, we need to be shown how to construct language in order to be understood. There are many arguments and opinions on the best way to do this, as we all know. In my opinion, Top-Down, teacher-centred, uncommunicative teaching leads to students being afraid of the Third Conditional and totally obsessed with the Present Perfect.
As a trainee teacher, we need to be guided towards options of how to teach. We need to be allowed to try things out that maybe our tutors wouldn’t ever do themselves, but can see that it might work for us. Our tutors need to be open to our suggestions, because we do have them, we can have them and we need to have them in order to grow. What we don’t need is too much rigidity, we need space. We need trust from our tutors. We need to be able to become the best teacher we can be, not the best teacher our tutors want us to be.
As a member of teaching staff, we need to have the respect and trust from those who manage us. We need to be supported in what we are doing in the classroom, guided towards development opportunities that work for us in our context. Allowed to test things out, to suggest new ideas and have them listened to, to be able to take part in the development of not only ourselves, but our colleagues too, safe in the knowledge that we have the backing of the management team.
We are all different, and that’s what makes this world so exciting, so as educators, let’s embrace those differences and allow them a place in our classrooms, on our training courses and in our schools.
Without this space to be who we are, we are destroying the vast array of opportunities that the world makes possible, and what a shame that would be.