Reine Duell Bethany - Author and Illustrator
My Blog

The One Indispensable Element

          I have taught as a college adjunct now for more than eight years.
          What does a teacher need to succeed? Knowledge, yes, and willingness to work hard at plans and grading. But knowledge and hard work are useless without ears, and the teacher's ears are useless without the One Indispensable Element.
          Every teacher develops those inward ears -- not the outward ones, but the inward ones that assemble every piece of incoming information coming from a student: words, glances/stares/etc., vocal tone, facial expressions, gestures, posture, outward appearance, classwork, lack of classwork, demands for attention -- all of these things must be heard.But they can't be heard without the One Indispensable Element.
          What is that OIE?
          The One Indispensable Element necessary to truly hear is this: respect for the student as a complex human whose every aspect has something important to say.          
          This respect has to be profound. Although a teacher has to act with authority, a teacher must never act with self-superiority. It is self-superiority that puts a student in the wrong instead of encouraging the flames of thought and action that burn in a student's being. Self-superiority deflects the focus from facilitating student growth to forcing the student to affirm the teacher's self-image. There can be no worse mistake.

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