Teach Like a Dad

by Will Gourley for his dad, Bill Gourley

If Dave Burgess and Paul Solarz have us teaching and learning like pirates, then I want to set sail in waters like theirs too. So, in honour of Father’s Day I thought it would be nice to tie a sail of thoughts to the mast in a treasure laden post filled with golden ideas and pearls of wisdom. Haarrrrr!

I became a father in 1995 – nearly 14 years before I became a teacher. After the natural shock and wonder of new parenthood wore off, I realized that my son did not come with a set of instructions. Perhaps, it was this experience that helped me in the classroom in ways not tangible to those just out of teacher’s college or via text book. My on the job experience as a parent has led me to some awesome revelations about the parallels between fatherhood and education. As much of life is learnt while on the job, I am thankful for everything that being a dad has taught me.

But it goes much further back in time than that and that leads straight to my own dad. Now I have blogged about him before, and to be completely transparent there is not a day that one of his axioms or ‘dadisms’ doesn’t spill into my practice.

Dads are consistent. Students need this from their teachers. Being consistent in the classroom means your yes means yes and your no means no. Never make a promise you cannot keep. Students will forget volumes of meticulously planned and executed hands-on inquiry based lessons, but will never forget a promise you made. In fact they will probably even be able to tell you what you wore when you made the promise. Keep your word. It teaches students to keep theirs too.

Dads are fair. Nothing erodes the confidence and trust in the classroom as unfairness. Students need to know and see there is equity and justice where they learn. Dads can’t play favourites, and teachers risk losing respect which will lead to undermining relationships with all students if they favour one learner over another.

Dads will always tell you what you need to improve even when you don’t want to hear it, not just what you did well. We’re not going to gush to your face, but we will tell every other person on the planet. Take it from me, word of a job well done will get back to you.

Dads are protective. Teachers do what it takes for their students’ to feel safe in the learning environment. Providing a safe place for students to try, fall, fail, shake the dust off, and rise again is crucial to growing effective modern learners. Feeling safe allows learners to take chances knowing they will be encouraged and honoured for their hard work, creativity and resilience.

Happy Father’s Day and Happy Teacher’s Day too!

This piece was originally posted on escheweducationalist 06/23/2015

Will Gourley can be found on Twitter @WillGourley and on his blog escheweducationalist.

One thought on “Teach Like a Dad

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