This is an excerpt (Chapter 1) from "Home-Style Teaching" by Raymond and Dorothy Moore
Some TLC (Tender, Loving Care) Hints for a New Teacher from an Old Classroom Hack
THERE WERE TIMES in my teacher-education courses in college when I wished the teachers would put down their recipe--one, two, three, four, with no flourishes--just to get me into the action. Their courses did little to help my confidence as a student teacher, and I became more apprehensive as graduation neared. To make matters worse, my fiancee´ was already a highly successful teacher in the Whittier, California, public schools, and had just been appointed the reading specialist for her school district. it did encourage me somewhat to get an A in student teaching, but my college was not yet accredited for offering state credentials. I had to look forward to earning a teaching certificate by Los Angeles County examination. I was later amazed that I passed decently, and although I had been teaching part-time for five years, I was scared of my first full-time teaching job.
So go the apprehensions of new teachers, and also of parents who are planning to teach their own for the first time. This is especially true when the state is breathing hotly down their necks. But there the similarity ends. It was another fifteen years before I had confidence in my teaching. I had been a college professor, graduate dean, and college president, when some of my former student teachers came to honor me.
I believe that most teachers need years to develop a confidence that is more than bravado. Yet we find that deeply convicted home-schooling parents--most of whom are afraid at first--actually settle into confident teaching within a few weeks or months. Their instincts, their one-to-one relationship with their "student," and the positive changes in their children in contrast to others gives early comfort that few professionals are privileged to experience. And parents who plan well ahead, sometimes for years, have the easiest time of all. Educators who read this chapter (and hopefully, parents, too) will soon sense that it was written by someone who has been out there with them and, in most cases, before them.
You may safely assume that few professional teachers understand the basic principles of great education. Most teachers were taught that the most important learning comes from books, and most teach as they were taught. They have never learned--as this book tells elsewhere--that the greatest teaching involves many loving and thoughtful one-to-one responses, inspiring and encouraging adult examples, and much freedom to explore.
At first this may seem overly simplistic or old-fashioned, but be patient and merciful in your judgment. Simple ideas and methods are usually the most effective, and old-fashioned items often wear well. I had the good fortune of sitting at the feet of many great old teachers and to learn, as did Ralph Waldo Emerson, that the years teach much which the days never know. the techniques we talk about here have been proven again and again through generations in both home and school. There are repetitions, but it often takes such emphases to jolt us from the tedium and tradition which have buried much of education in Greco-Roman graves, along with their societies that went down before ours. It takes a loud voice to raise from the dead.
Teaching is inspiring a student rather than filling him with facts. It is reponding to him rather than demanding of him. It is motivating him to explore on his own rather than controlling his explorations. It is inducing him to think, rather than repeating others' thoughts. Teaching is leading others to be like you--and more. It is finding lessons in everything you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch, and bringing them together to give deeper meaning and fulfillment to life.
The order of the following hints may leave something to be desired, but we hope that the reemergence of old truths in new contexts will strengthen them in your mind, whether you are teaching at home or in an institution.
1. Organization. Although you do not have to become highly formalized, do your best to plan systematically. Have a place for everything and teach both your students and yourself to keep everything in its place. Keep small pieces of note paper in your shirt or apron pocket. Make a daily list of things to do. At the end of the day, make a new list for tomorrow, carrying forward the things undone. Keep a brief daily journal of your school activities, and have your students do the same. This is a great motivator for organization and can be a lot of fun now and later. At home or at school, the examples of your own self-discipline will teach more than you can by words. Carefully make your schedule to serve you--and follow it. But if something more worthwhile comes up, don't be a slave to your schedule.
2. Discipline and Self-Control. Discipline is the art of making disciples, and a great leader must first learn to be a good follower. Such sound discipline will come as a product of self-control, which is best developed by focusing on the needs of others. This highest type of discipline can never be built in a selfish individual or society. Self-discipline and self-respect are best found through service and concern for our neighbors. The student--and the teacher--who learns this will evoke a more productive society.
3. Relaxation. If you are a warm, responsive person, you will likely be a good teacher. Relax, at least enough to be a loving person rather than a tense beast. No teacher is perfect, but all good teachers see their students as persons with lives filled with acceptance and worthwhile accomplishments. Wrap your heart around them. It will help you forget yourself.
4. Imagination and Leadership. Lead your students. See yourself as a shepherd, guiding, but not as a sheep dog, barking at your "lambs." See a lesson in their every question, an illustration in everything touched by your life and those of your children. Give wide rein to your imagination.
5. Physical Tone. Keep slim, active, and physically fit. Don't get out of condition. Eat to live. Don't live to eat--and drink. Get plenty of constructive exercise. Get your rest, for the sake of your own patience. The hours before midnight are at least twice as valuable for sleep as the early morning hours. And, for study, the hours before breakfast are three to five times as valuable as the time after supper.
6. Systems View. See your children as important people in building their school, their community, and their nation. Help them gain the broad view of being producers and servers rather than always being served.
7. Course of Study. If it isn't chosen for you, select your curriculum carefully. Take good counsel and use your imagination. Don't let the course of study panic you. Look it over in relation to each subject or activity. Then set your goals accordingly and work toward them systematically, following the schedules you set.
8. The Teacher-Classroom Manager. You do not have to know everything. You cannot. Many children know more than their teachers about many things. The teacher's main business is to stimulate imagination and encourage inquiry, not to fill heads with facts as one would gl;asses from a pitcher. Rather, you are the classroom manager, at school or at home. You know where you and your students can find needed information. Be constantly on the lookout for promising new sources and techniques. Teach what you can yourself. But, for much of your task, help your students become specialists in areas that they especially like, and let them help you teach. They can often teach more effectively than you. In fact, their education is incomplete if they are not imparting as they learn.
9. Use of Students as Teachers. There may be a wide variety of abilities in your home or classroom. Some students will be very good in math, for example, but poor in reading. Few will really lag in everything. Use the stronger to help the weaker and older to help the younger. Children will often be able to teach one thing but need help in another. A good classroom manager allows for such arrangements.
10. Diagnosis. If a child does seem "slow," be suspicious first of his health, sight, hearing, home problems, boredom, burnout, and so forth. here is where TLC takes over and makes you a great teacher.
11. Teacher-Learner. Don't hestitate to seek help--from a fellow teacher, homemaker, physician, or principal. Study the techniques of other effective parents and teachers.
12. Prompt Record-Keeping. Keep up-to-date reports--daily or periodic--including a brief daily journal or diary. This is a must for good relationships with the principal and the school system or for your home school's accounting to the state. Procrastination is deadly in teaching.
13. Dependability in Students. Insist that your students also keep up to date. You must educate them to be prompt and dependable. This is far more important than geting A's or B's in language or math. Give them more projects than workbooks--assignments that excite them and stretch their minds. Check on their projects in stages, to see that they are learning as they go, whether they are making a bas-relief map out of flour and salt and water and colored with available paints, fashioning a steam engine from a can, or building a tractor from a thread spool, a match stick, and a rubber band.
14. Motivation: Knowing the Individual. Search out early the abilities and interests of each child at home or at school. Tests and records already on hand will often help you. Then use these abilities and interests as gateways to meaningful production and sound rapport. Are your children mechanically inclined? Do they have special language backgrounds? Are they muscical? Interested in scientific observation? When you appeal to their personal needs and skills, you are developing powerful intrinsic motivation from needs within them instead of pressures or threats imposed from outside.
15. Building Mutual Respect. Challenge your students. Don't plead, but see that they work! It is not your primary business to amuse. They will respect you more if you let them know you have confidence in them. Trust begets trust. Expect top effort. Point them toward leadership in their communities, to development of sound values in society and in their professions, to building of strong manhood and womanhood to the glory of their nation and their God.
16. Reading Resources. Provide ample high-order reading resources that meet the personal needs of your students on mental, physical, vocational, social, and inspirational levels. But be sure of the quality of this material. If you are teaching in an institution, utilize parent committees to help your choices. If you are in a home school, talk with other parents and your pastor. You will find that libraries and families usually cooperate freely. In home schools, a range of good books--your own or from libraries--is also a great supplement to your work and stimulates many responses.
17. Vocational Eye-Openers. Involve parents or other qualified people from time to time--physicians, ministers, lawyers, nurses, and so on--to tell about their professions and to inspire. give students a chance to question. however, if you are in school, don't allow guests to talk too long or to crowd recesses. If at home, don't let unexpected visitors or your telephone mold your day.
18. Delegate and Check. Check frequently on performance through short tests and other evaluation techniques. Utilize students to help in grading (perhaps using numbers instead of names to identify papers, to protect privacy). Exchange papers in a variety of ways, and while you are reading the answers, demand absolute attention in correcting the tests.
19. Paper Work. Don't get bogged down with loads of papers at night. Before leaving school for the day, most of your work should be completed for that day and your schedule arranged for the next. Organization and using students to help are keys here. if you are teaching at home, don't put such things off. You can usually go over your students' papers in class.
20. Thoroughness. Insist on high standards. Every paper you require should be corrected--by you or the students. Be sure every student goes over his marked paper and corrects everything. Perfection should be your goal. You need not pressure the students, but you can keep that carrot well out in front so as to keep them on the track.
21. Cooperative Teaching. utilize students in all classroom projects and lesson preparations. Those who work with you will not work against you! This is constructive discipline. Preventive discipline (seeing and preventing a "situation" before it fully develops) is much better than remedial action. Learn with your students. Even though in some subjects they will know more than you, lead them--in love. They are the leaders of tomorrow. And you will need them one day! As a college president, I have had students turn up years later on my board. More than once my former students have had a part in hiring me. and your children may one day be taking care of you!
22. Heart to Heart. On the first day of school, and periodically thereafter, drop everything and have a candid talk. Let your students know that everyone is expected to learn certain skills in order to be able to face life. Reading, math, spelling, a good speech, writing, and sound handling of money are survival skills. Not everyone in the class will necessarily be required to perform precisely the same assignments, for some have already acquired this knowledge or certain skills. When you are convinced that a student knows a subject thoroughly, you will not dog him with more assignments nor try to make him regurgitate mental food he as already digested. Great education calls for few workbooks.
23. Honor System. If possible, have some kind of student-administered honor system under your guidance. In any event, remind the class early in the year that not only will cheating not be tolerated, but also that you expect to conduct the class in such a fair manner that it will not be considered necessary to cheat. Welcome their coming to you if they have problems, yet avoid encouraging unnecessary complaints or harassment. A high level of motivation to happy service and sound citizenship will give you strength.
24. Appreciation. Be long on encouragement, even though it may sometimes be hard to give. Walk tall and breathe confidence because you have it. Compliment frequently--publicly, if merited, or privately when that seems advisable. Be fair with all and distribute your attention as evenly as possible. Ensure that every child has a daily success experience even if you have to arrange it.
25. Consistency. The teacher who is consistent, even if his or her habits are not perfect, tends to give the students greater security and comes across as better organized. Consistency is a teacher's precious jewel.
26. Supervised Study. Make homework, if any, creative and appropriate to a student's ability. Assign it on a project basis, giving time over days or weeks, but checking systematically and explicitly on progress. One student may have a scientific project; another may put together a telegraph set as did early railroaders. Others may write an article or a song, make paper or flour-and-salt dough models for a teaching unit, or help decorate a house or the schoolroom. In other words, make homework creative. Concede to rote assignments only when such remedial work is absolutely necessary, but never let it simply become "busy work" (to keep the children occupied so that they will not get in the parents' hair). One of the best homework projects is keeping a daily journal. This is especially fruitful for home schools. It demonstrates system, helps in the ability to write, and is an excellent record.
28. Involvement. Relate projects to your classroom work as a whole, insofar as possible. For example, measuring things or making items and selling them are great for arithmetic, whether in the kitchen or classroom or garage. have your children report in detail to you or to the entire class, as indicated. Occasionally have a school fair or open house for parents where the results of your students' work can be seen.
29. Initiative. Encourage students to seek professional help on their own. For example, watch flower arranging at a local florist, take the class to a nearby printer or publisher, get some help on establishing an honor system by visiting a lawyer. Let two or more youngsters work together if the combination is compatible.
30. Balance. Provide a balanced program of work and study. This offsets mental strain, develops character, and builds initiative, industry, and responsibility. Have every student in class assigned one or more daily/weekly responsibilities in the home on which he will report and--if you are in a regular classroom--on which you will work with his parents in developing promptness, respect, cleanliness, dependability, and so on. In such a case, if the student does not have home cooperation, give him a job with you at school. but do not make a single exception. It must be a case of "everybody's doing it," either at home or school. and give your child (or children) a grade, in consultation with the parents. For home schools, this privilege of working together freely is the cream.
31. Home Visits. If practicable, visit every home as early as possible and at least once or twice during the year. It takes time, but it is worth it. Before your first visit, know your student, including his past record. But visit to learn about him, not necessarily (or only) to teach his parents. Visit again later in the year. Don't show partiality to any parent or home. If you are homeschooling, involve your child in making things for others--bread, cookies, simple toys or other crafts--and taking them to those who are needy or ill, or to neighbors whom you would like to befriend, especially if they need to be more understanding of home-schooling.
32. Nobility. While we cannot guarantee perfect results, we must help every child to excel in something, and we must build self-worth. It will then be easier to help him become honest, dependable, orderly, prompt, courteous, and otherwise develop refinement and the balanced character which a sound society requires. We repeat: lead and encourage your students in doing good for others. They will dignify what you dignify: projects for neighbors, for the feeble or ill, or for the community.
33. Practical Instruction. Don't put down book learning, but don't be its slave either. Recognize its importance, but show its application to worthwhile projects--a garden for science; class paper, diary, or personal experience as subjects for short creative writing exercises; model villages from salt dough for bas-relief maps for social studies, and for art; charts, budgets, or family spending guides for math, and so on.
34. Personalized Projects. Relate student projects to home, church, or community whenever possible. In regular schools, this brings involvement and support for your teaching program. For example, plan a school or class garden. Each child can have his own little section. All will delight in taking home some vegetables or flowers. Students might sell vegetables and use the money for a class, school, or home purpose. Sound gardening advice may be secured from experienced people in your area. Vegetable and flower seedlings can even be raised in classrooms in galvanized metal trays which can easily be made by local metal tradesmen. In home schools, form your own family corporation (either "dummy" or real) and run a cottage industry.
35. Sense of Humor. You may expect problems, but don't invite them! Seek sound counsel. Be patient and teachable. In schools, avoid practical jokes and the entrance by students into your personal affairs--remarks about your boyfriends, girlfriend, or family, for example. These and other familiarities must not be permitted. Never allow students to call you by your first name. On the other hand, a sense of humor is vital. Love is the key, for it helps you see yourself through your students' eyes and know how to distinguish between the bad and the good.
36. Gossip and Confidences. Never share random information that would not bear repeating in the presence of the one who is being discussed. In a professional matter, such as discipline, deal only with those who are, or should be, ethically concerned. To violate confidence, in classroom, office, or home, is one of the most serious and undermining breaches of ethics. We repeat, never violate a confidence, not even to another teacher or your roommate or spouse. make this an absolute habit. Say only good things about others or keep quiet, unless there is a serious problem, and then act in this order: (1) go alone to the student or other person involved; (2) take someone else along; (3) finally, consult parents, pastor, or others, depending on the nature of the problem. Be a peacemaker. The only possible exception should be when a felony or life-or-death situation is at stake.
37. Poise. As a teacher, you are thrust into a position of prominence in the community. Neither dodge the spotlight nor seek it; just be worthy of the esteem of all. Parents and others will judge you, but you are not to judge them. Your wisdom and character, your common sense and dedication, will be a constant witness. Stand tall. Make the Golden Rule your constant guide.
38. Authority-Responsibility. In school and home, the job of building children, experience by experience, so that they can take responsibility for the authority they gradually demand, require a certain risk on the part of the teacher and the parent. For example, permitting a child to take out the family car, before he can be held financially responsible for an accident, is an experience that faces nearly every Western parent. Responsibility must always be the basis for authority. Yet the judgment of the youth must be ventured and respected or he will never develop discernment. Our principal job, then, is to educate not only for knowledge and skill, but also for wisdom and sound judgment. This is your greatest glory. You must emphasize responsibilty as the foundation for authority, and practical work as a builder of self-worth.
39. Training and Education. Training is often mistaken for education. The good teacher will ever be aware of the differences and will discover both the economies of training and the challenges to the highest goals in education. Training does not require much reasoning, e.g., as in learning the ABC's or how to type. Education is effective only in proportion to its use of reasoning and judgment. Training is an expedient that appeals to instincts and coordination. Education builds on principle and appeals to reason for discovering the basic whys of life. Training is necessary for animals and for human responses that place a low requirement on reason, as with little children or the severely retarded. Education develops judgment, wisdom, and creative effort which animals cannot know. the newborn baby, who is almost totally without reason, and must be trained, we hope will gradually become a consistently thoughtful person by age eight to twelve and thus fully educable. Teaching reaches its highest point when it prepares the human mind and heart for creative service for others--living by the Golden Rule, "in honour preferring one another."
40. Faith. America was founded upon a deep trust in God. Many teachers find unusual strength and stability here. In referring to his students, one teacher recently said, "Every time I lead the Pledge of Allegiance to my country, I sense that my every student is a child of God." Here is a teacher who has his values straight and thus seldom needs to worry about his ability to teach.