My experience as a success coach for educators has shown me that there is no doubt that educators have a unique audience to cater to when teaching in the classroom. Unlike participants in the professional world, students have a unique outlook that can be used to learn more, not only from themselves, but from others. The very fact that they are “students” invokes an openness to learn, so embrace that element and be careful not to stifle it.
As a result, I have to isolated four key lessons for teachers to adhere to in order to be successful educators.
- Admit you can not change people
- Facilitate through awareness
- Utilize disarming techniques
- Be truly present
Let’s explore these four lessons further in order to understand the power they provide educators.
It’s Not Our Job to “Fix” Anyone
Put your ego in your back pocket.
As facilitators, it’s not our job to “fix” anyone or to have any solutions. Our job is to help our participants expand the horizons of their awareness, and to facilitate them into taking responsibility for their own actions, behavior, and attitude.
When educators are in front of the classroom it is sometimes difficult to remember that just because they are leading, it doesn’t mean that they have to be an “authority” on the subject at hand. In fact, the amount of brilliance unleashed in the participants may depend on how well the teacher lets go of his or her need to have all the answers.
The way most of us were raised and schooled, we were conditioned to shut up and listen to the wisdom of the “expert” at the head of the class. To me, a good educator consistently approaches teaching as a facilitation from the perspective that the wisdom in the “room” is far more potent than the “sage” in front of the room. This takes incredible awareness and courage.
I wish I had this new belief earlier in my career. Knowing this takes a huge burden off the educator because now the teacher doesn’t have to know everything, or anything for that matter. That is a huge WOW for me!
Interaction Facilitates Awareness
Getting students to interact will have far more lasting impact than lecturing. This is particularly true when deciding whether to facilitate or teach. Many teachers choose to lecture their students. That has been our tradition. And our egos very often depend on this perception. Teaching is easier to do than facilitating. I know. I taught traditionally for many years. This is not to say that there is never a time for lecture. There is. Balance is the key.
The primary goal of facilitation is to make things “easier” for a person or group to learn, grasp, or accomplish, while allowing them to come up with the answers. How do I facilitate awareness? I ask specific questions that help participants become more aware of their actions, behavior, and attitude. “Why did you do this, what was your experience, how can you improve that, what would you do differently?” As they come up with their own answers, they choose to stay the same or change. It is their choice.
So what’s the point? The point is that not everybody is auditory. People will better learn, engage, shift, and change by actually participating in some behavior that engages their multiple senses. Providing your students with problem solving activities that engage multiple senses is far more powerful than anything a mere lecture can provide.
Disarm by Having Fun
It is my belief that people learn best when having fun. Laughter opens up individuals to their creative problem solving abilities and keeps them involved and engaged.
I don’t know about you, but most classroom lectures I have experienced were heavy, stuffy, and downright boring. As a student, I never spoke up because I cared too much about what others thought of me, didn’t want to rock the boat, and tolerated boredom because that’s what I was taught to do. But I learned. I learned what not to do.
As a Success Coach for Educators, I learned to do things to get people loosened up, lightened up, out of their routine, and into their soulful potential as infinitely creative and inspired beings. And most of you have probably discovered that it’s when you’re feeling light and joyful that you’re most inspired and creative ideas and solutions come forward. Educators can do this as well.
You can inject an element of fun into all of the day’s activities, to effectively disarm your students, no matter how serious the work before us. Through trust building activities, we can use appropriate humor and can draw on those in the group that tend to be naturally good at it for help. We can also use toys and props to get people doing something and keep the mood from getting too serious. Toys tend to put people at ease, increase their creative thinking abilities, increase their sense of cooperation, and their attention to tasks at hand, thus improving their productivity.
Here are some fun props you might try to keep your students in a “lighter” state of mind:
- Koosh balls–rubber-like balls about the size of a baseball that are soft and fluffy.
- Liquid-filled snow globes–you turn them over and the “snow” falls.
- “Magic wands” filled with liquid and glittery starts.
- Small wire sculptures that you change into different shapes.
- Plastic, bendable animal figures, or small statues of cartoon figures.
Having a sense of humor is the key. Untapping this wonderful potential is the challenge. Extraordinary things happen when people are smiling and laughing.
Educators need to really be present by practicing active listening, not preparing what we wish to say next. Most of us do not do that. It is an art, and it is a skill. People know when we are present and when we are just going through the motions, especially kids!
Teachers can facilitate their own inner process so that they can be better present with their students by maintaining a learning yearning (I love those 2 words!) orientation to life. This helps them remain open to new ideas and inputs. It also means the educator is committed to their own self-care to maintain the high energy and awareness required of a facilitative leader, and as a model for students. If you want your students to be good listeners, you must be a good listener!
Want to Strengthen Your Classroom Facilitation Skills? Larry Lipman Can Help!
Participate in fun and energizing teacher professional development activities that will help you become a true facilitator in the classroom instead of only a lecturer. Give Larry a call to schedule a educator team building day at 770.333.3303!