“You need to make sure that when your twenty apples from one basket are transferred to another basket, these are still twenty apples. Not ten oranges and ten apples when these reach the destination.”
One night, I was fast-tracking my lessons. I needed to make sure that I cover all in my syllabus before the departmental quiz of a theory-based, technical subject. So I was trying to squeeze what I could given the time allotted for me to teach the subject. The problem was I needed to finish the subject within two weeks because it was “modular”. Thus, I was torn between making the technical topics palatable to my non-technical students and hastening the discussion to cover all.
I noticed, however, one person who probably was having difficulty coping with the discussion while most of the group seemed to follow reasonably. I was talking about “system interfaces” and the controls that needed to be considered to ensure its effectiveness. I wanted really to ignore her and continue moving to another topic. But then it dawned on me that, above all, I was her teacher.
I suddenly recalled the time when my grandmother, who was a teacher, patiently explained to me lessons that I had difficulty understanding. She would use different strategies just for me to get what she was teaching. She would not give up on me until I get what she was explaining.
And I took a cue from that memory way back when I was really young…
I smiled at my student, and delivered that line.
It took me different strategies to drive my point but I did not leave her without getting the point that I was discussing. I started with the technical stuffs, then I related this to real-world examples that I encountered in my practice. When the technical explanations did not suffice, I moved to what I usually call as the “fruits” lessons. I even played around with different scenarios:
… Some apples getting lost by mistake while in transit
… Some apples intentionally taken by malicious individuals
… Some apples erroneously/intentionally changed to oranges while in transit
When she finally smiled to me, and I was confident that she got my point, that was when I moved to another topic.
I spent several minutes in that discussion which I thought I could use to cover more important topics. I actually ended my class a bit late — by fifteen minutes. However, as a teacher, I cannot leave a single student behind. It was a promise I made when I decided to take this path. I was not about to break that promise just because I was rushing to cover all in my syllabus.
At the end of the lessons, I saw her trailing behind her classmates. Then she suddenly gave me a smile filled with gratitude. I thought then that teaching was a really fulfilling career.
I guess, from the end of a student, her showing to me that she had difficulty coping was a good strategy to get my attention. It made me focused on her. She could have pretended like, I suspect, some were doing — nodding excitedly as if they were able to get what I was saying. But her style paid off. She did well in the class. She got a “Very Good” in her final grade, which was way better than what many of my students in that class got as final grades.
Friends, there are two things I need you to take from this entry.
First, as a student, staff or anyone (regardless of position or age), do not deny admitting having difficulty on something. People around you won’t be able to extend help unless you sound-off. Ignore what other people would say. Let them feast on your issues. What is important is that you would able to resolve and put your issues behind.
Finally, as a teacher or anyone who holds more knowledge and experience than the people around us, it is incumbent that we make sure to reasonably share what we know. It could be really challenging, and honestly impossible, to make everyone understand what you are saying. However, as a famous saying implies just “teach from your heart”, and take as many with you in your journey as a “teacher”.
Remember that the fulfillment that we all get from sharing what we know is never about the money that comes with it. It is always at the idea that we have added value to another person’s life thru the knowledge that we share.
PS1: “Share What You Know” is a recommended read to all.
PS2: Featured image was taken from “https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2016/10/30/05/43/aec-1782427_960_720.jpg”.