The Education Tightrope

Sssssh.

Didn’t work.

O-KAY!!! (clap hands).

Didn’t work.

(Silent stare)

Didn’t work.

(Whistle)

Didn’t work.

I wouldn’t care less when teaching adults who are paying for their classes and understand why they’re learning English, but in a High School, the less I care the harder MY job is. Being forced to care makes the classroom strained, and what comes across to the lively students is “my job is to teach you English.”

As pragmatic as it seems, this is a bad approach towards imparting the knowledge because it positions you as an authority, and the classroom atmosphere comes from the top down. This is, more often than not, a complete failure. The classroom atmosphere can be controlled to a threshold, but it’s always more successful to ascertain the mood of the students before attempting to enforce an atmosphere.

The best approach towards the actual education is to encourage self-motivation, but this takes a personal knowledge of your students. Personal relationships must be harvested, but there can never be an emotional equality with the students, otherwise you’re in competition with them for their attention rather than earning it through respect. So you’re on a tightrope, carefully balanced between being an engaging, energetic source of knowledge and an authoritative voice to be respectfully obeyed. Walking this tightrope, often at the expense of my own thoughts, feelings and general mood, is the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do on a daily basis.

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