MINDSET: It's not my problem if you don't want to learn OR I'm responsible for my students' learning.

Every master teacher shares the mindset that it is his responsibility to cause his students to learn. Teaching is not what you do but what your students do. The focus of teaching is not on the teacher but the students. Teaching is causing learning. If your students have not learnt then you have not taught.

Seven Learner Maxims
A maxim is a brief statement of a general principle or truth.
  1. Teachers are responsible to cause the students to learn.

    If so, then your students' grades are your grades - an assessment of your performance!

    Note to the student: When you are the teacher, teach like you are 100% responsible; when you are the student, learn like you are 100% responsible.

  2. Teachers will stand accountable to God for their influence. (Jas. 3:1)

    This does not mean that when you teach for the right reasons, everything is automatically going to be wonderful. God never promised to give you a class that always responds joyfully to you and your subject. Even Jesus, the Master Teacher had students such as the Sadducees and Pharisees, who attack attacked not only His content but His reputation and eventually taking His life.

    "Teach when you experience joy, and teach when you feel grief. God has divinely called and commissioned you. Teach for your student's grade on Friday's test and teach for your grade on the Final test."

    God holds people accountable only for that which is in their control.

  3. Teachers are responsible because they control subject, style, setting and speaker.

    • Subject - words, change subject any time, illustrations, depth of coverage, etc

    • Style - delivery, method, whisper or shout, small groups or lectures, panel or debate, film or skit, etc

    • Speaker - control of yourself, dressed any way he wants (within accepted protocol), come early and stay late, talk with the students or remain distant from them, sit, stand or walk around, etc

    The only major part of the teaching-learning process that the teacher does not control is the student.

    The effective teacher causes his students to learn through control of these three elements. If there is a problem with your class, look at yourself first. Ask what is stopping a student from learning i.e., what is the problem and readjust accordingly.

  4. Teachers should judge their success by the success of their students.

    Credentials are relevant but they do not tell us anything about how effective that person will be in the classroom because credentials center on the teacher, not what the teacher can do in the lives of the students. The only fact which indisputably proves what kind of teacher you will make is how your previous students performed. The most important test of teacher effectiveness is student performance.

  5. Teachers impact more by their character and commitment than their communication.

    God's principles for ministry have always been the same: character first then communication. The life of the communicator must first be in harmony with his message before he speaks the message.

    Our character will always control the content - eventually ... because when sin is given free reign, the Spirit of God is quenched then the teacher will begin to shape the content to match his lifestyle.

  6. Teachers exist to serve the students.

    If you are nervous before you speak then you are self-conscious - how you will do and what the people will think about you. But if you would get your eyes off yourself and on the audience and start caring about meeting (serving) their needs, you would stop being so nervous.

    The teacher is a waiter. You exist to meet the needs of your students, not your own.

  7. Teachers who practice the Laws of the Learner and Teacher can become master teachers.

    Master teachers are not born, just improved. There are degrees of innate ability, but the majority of people who achieve in their fields do so with persistent effort over a long period of time.
Conclusion: The law of the learner is the foundation upon which every other law is built.

Learner Method

Small Group Discussion: Identify the problem(s) in the following situations.
  • I can't stand my teacher. I don't think he even knows my name. I'm not going to attend his class and I bet he would not even notice my absence.

  • He is just reading from his notes. Might as well give them to me and I will read them myself.

  • My teacher's head is in the clouds - none of us understand what he is speaking about most of the time.

  • Lecture, lecture, lecture - that's all my teacher does. And if we want to ask questions, we are told to write them down and they will be answered in the next class.

  • Class is so boring.
Teaching is how to teach what to whom. Let's break down this definition into three relationships between the teacher and:
  • style (how to teach)

    If you are style-oriented then you love what takes place in the process of teaching and learning; love seeing a class that is "alive" with excitement and interest; like to be creative in class using different methods; you are never boring but spontaneous, varied and simply love to teach.

    If style is your weakest link then lecture is your middle name ... you stand and deliver - nothing more, nothing less. Students feel bored in your class and tend to feel sleepy.

  • subject (teach what)

    If you are subject-oriented then you love the contents; love to the "deep" things and research; have more materials than needed; often hurry to finish a class; enjoy explaining things; sometimes how to avoid over-complicating things.

    However, if subject is your weakest link then you are insecure about the contents; depend heavily on your notes; prefer not to answer questions from students; other people's materials always seem better than your own.

  • student (teach to whom)

    If you are student-oriented then you love the students; think of them as friends; interested in them in and out of class; like an extended family ... you share your life with them and eat with them; tend to stray from the subject because you want to help your students so much.

    If the student relationship is your weakest link then you are not comfortable around students; arrive as class begins and leave quickly; students refer to you by your title and not your name and you know only a few names of the students half way through the course.
Which one of the three is your greatest strength?

Seven Learner Maximizers
Quick tips to help you use the law of the learner
  1. Love your students consistently and unconditionally.

    Apply 1 Cor. 13 to your students. Wilkinson also suggests that love includes passion, intensity and fervency in teaching.

  2. Express the subject in terms of the students’ needs and interests.

  3. Alter your style regularly according to each situation.

    Master teachers can make a "boring" subject interesting.

  4. Rest in your talents and gifts and be yourself.

    Do not be a copycat; do not preach another person's sermon or in his style.

  5. Note constantly your student’s attitudes, attention and actions.

    Read their body language

  6. Excel by using your strengths to compensate for your weaknesses.

  7. Rely on the Holy Spirit for teaching

    This is supernatural ... above your natural ability to teach.

    There are three levels of teaching: (1) Selfish level - the teacher uses his natural gift covering contents but nothing more (2) Servant level - the teacher serves his students with all his energy and focuses on them and their needs (3) Spirit level - as with the servant level but also in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.

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Alan's Gleanings | October 2011 by Alan S.L. Wong