Thursday, November 26, 2009

When a Teacher Learns

On the very last day of school, during the very last class, the teacher turned to the students. He looked at each of them slowly and started to speak.

“Each of you knows what you have learned from me. All of you know what you have learned from your other teachers – or not, as the case may be.”

The students chuckled nervously. It was funny, but in a way, it was not.

He continued with a question, “How many of you, however, know what your teachers have learned from you?”

Eyes widened. What did he mean?

“Today” said the teacher, “I will tell you.”

“I have learned from you that different people learn in different ways.”

“I learned that some of you learn at different speeds, different paces.”

“I learned that all of you have your good days and bad days. I do too.”

“I learned from you that I forgot what it was like to be a student, and I want to thank you for reminding me how hard it was.”

“I learned that if I really wanted to know how to teach, I need to listen to what my students tell me, even when they do not know that they are telling me anything at all.”

“I learned that if I want to be a better teacher, I have to learn how to listen first, act second and judge last. I learned that I should ask my students what will make me a better teacher as well; for if I expect them to be better students, they ought to have at least as much say in what will make me, make them, such.”

And the teacher did listen; and at first it was like the echoes in a large empty room. Then, slowly, slight murmurs rose to sound and voices became clear. And here is what they said: