“I love coming to your class because you let me be me.”
That single sentence from a student made me realize what I was doing wrong and right in the classroom.
But before I go into this, let me share with you this first.
I just finished watching Chris Emdin’s powerful and thought provoking video titled “Reality Pedagogy” in which he insists teachers to first understand students, their culture and their context, and only then teach them the content.
His argument is pretty simple. Even when teachers do have sufficient content knowledge, many still lack the tools necessary to address the cultural divides that render them ineffective in teaching.
Starting right off the bat by teaching the content, teachers miss the opportunity to foster engagement and relationship with the students who come from divergent background. Teachers miss the opportunity to show the students that classroom is in fact an extension of their lives and their communities. Why should the classroom be anything un-real than their realities?
How many times have I done this in the classroom?
How many times have I ignored about engaging the students, and focused simply on teaching the content?
How many times have I forgotten that students have lives outside the classroom too?
Now coming back to this student and what he told me that day.
He’s usually late for the class. Walks in after 30 mins or even 45 mins sometimes. Doesn’t stay quiet. Doesn’t stay still. Quick to answer. Quick to question.
He was talkative but unless he was being interruptive in the class, I was okay with his behavior. He also seemed like a good team player whenever students had group tasks and presentations. And like other students, he enjoyed tea-break.
So after the last class of the session, when he approached me and told me that he loved coming to my class, initially I assumed that he was referring to the tea-break. But he added, “You let me be me. And even though I come late, I feel welcomed and I’m learning stuffs in this class.”
And in saying so, he reminded me – one more time – that teaching is more than simply teaching the content. Thank you.