Especially if you work with multiple subjects, you probably know the frustration of coaching students to improve in areas they have little aptitude for and care little about. The problems of assuming that everyone should make A’s in every topic were recognized as early as the 1940s, when George H. Reavis wrote the classic allegory The Animal School. Reavis envisioned an animal kingdom where ducks were forced to run land marathons, wingless animals were expected to fly, and eagles were disciplined in climbing class for refusing to take the slow way up.
Ludicrous? Little more so than the following situations:
But it’s not just students who suffer when one education style is treated as the education style. Teachers also have learning, communications, and scheduling approaches unique to themselves. If you’re chronically frustrated with your classes, your job, and yourself, you may be trying to squeeze yourself into a teaching mold that isn’t you.
Are you instructing by lecture because that’s how your teachers did it, while secretly longing for an open-discussion classroom?
Do you discipline in because-I-said-so fashion—and feel like a bully the whole time—because someone told you chaos would break loose if you left your authority in doubt?
Do you have artistic, conversational, or dexterity gifts you are neglecting to incorporate into your teaching?
Besides encouraging students to honor their unique best selves, allow yourself the privilege of teaching like the individual you are.
It may be you’ve spent so many years following others’ ideas, you aren’t even sure what sort of individual you really are. In that case, a professionally designed personality or aptitude test can help. A few well-proven options:
Even if the test results surprise you or sound like something the school administration would never allow, give your real self a serious chance. There’s always something you can do for a starter, if only replacing purchased gold stars with hand-drawn “Congratulations” designs. (The personal touch is more meaningful to students, anyway.)
And if “personality assessments” recommendations seem impossible to put into action? Give them a chance anyway. There’s always something you can do for a starter, if only getting up fifteen minutes earlier each day to draft one page of a novel.
Have a blessed school term!