March 16, 2012
"Hello fellow teachers," a student said to a few colleagues and me as we walked down the hall. "Since when are you a teacher?" one of my colleagues replied.
I was surprised by this response, and thought of Paulo Freire's belief that all of us are both students and teachers. I also thought of my students, who taught me more about how to--and how not to--treat them and teach them than I learned from education courses, in-service training, or supervisors' feedback.
I learned from students who told me I needed to talk less and listen more.
I learned from students who struggled with basic arithmetic but could solve logic puzzles faster than I could.
I learned from students who told me--and then showed me--they were better off in heterogeneous groups than homogeneous ones.
I learned from students who solved problems using different methods than the ones I used.
I learned from students who rejected my "you can do it too" speeches, and reminded me that I was there to teach them, not preach to them.
I learned from students who asked, "Why do we have to show our work if we can solve problems in our heads?"
I learned from students who told me my class was boring and why it was boring.
I learned from students who "needed" to go to the bathroom whenever they became confused in class.
I learned from students who disproved widely held stereotypes of low-income urban youth.
I could go on and on because I learned from all of my students (one of many benefits of my student feedback system). And if I hadn't learned as much as I did from them, they wouldn't have learned as much as they did from me.
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