There has been a lot of talk lately of what makes a good teacher. It is easy to make lists of hundreds of values, skills and attributes that make for good teachers, but there are two skills that separate the good teachers from the great ones. One skill is the ability to "reframe" a situation for students, which I will discuss today. The other, which I've mentioned in earlier posts, is the recognition that "fair is not equal." I will devote next month's post to some specific teaching techniques which build on this.
Redefining the Event
Reframing is having the insight to interpret events in different ways -- and to choose interpretations that lead to better outcomes. The truth is, we don't act on what children do, we respond to the name we give it. Since interpretation can be heavily subjective -- and since we can't always know of our students' intentions -- we never know which name is the correct one. Thus, we have the freedom to choose any name that leads to the best possible outcome. Is a student who sticks to his view "resolute," meaning that he doesn't quit when things get tough? Or is he "stubborn and out to get me"? Which interpretation helps you reach the student and leads to a better resolution of the issue? If you see a student in the hall talking to friends when class is about to start, which interaction leads to a better result?