I remember back to my early days of academic progression through the Australian public school system with mixed emotions. In the main, English (and other subjects for that matter) were laboriously taught ?strictly by the book?, by uninteresting individuals in droning monotone, that failed to instill any ongoing interest in either the subject matter, or the lesson as a whole. My attention unerringly moved to watching the second hand on the clock excruciatingly slowly, rotate through three hundred and sixty degrees, marking the completion of that minute and the start of the next, that would eventually culminate in the required number of minutes being completed to conclude the lesson and the hasty, mass exodus from the classroom, at great risk to life and limb, by all and sundry. My sketchy and absent minded notes, scribbled whilst thinking about what I was going to eat at lunch, or do with friends that afternoon or on the weekend, in no way, served to illustrate or reinforce the point of the lesson and I found myself frantically consulting the text book for hours on end, to catch up when revision tests and exams came around.
On the other hand, I recall with great fondness, those inspiring individuals who made it their business to establish a rapport with each and every student in the class. They were always in class before the scheduled lesson time and spent those few minutes to greet, chat or share a joke, with each student as they arrived. These teachers were adaptable to the individual demeanor of each student. Their lessons were delivered with an element of fun, passion and creativity and always focused on getting the core lesson points up on the board, eliciting the material from the students and reinforcing the lesson point, by allowing the students to interact, self correct and problem solve as a group. Suitable focus was given as required, to allow the quieter students to participate, whilst maintaining the enthusiasm of the more outgoing students. The rapport that was established by these free thinking souls, was instrumental in securing the attention of myself and my peers, for the duration of the lesson, which went by so surprisingly and appreciatively quickly. The notes taken in class were minimal, but of great value, due to the effective delivery of the lesson. This resulted in a lot less time spent on homework. The rapport established was further evident, when upon the lessons conclusion, the hasty retreat phenomena was minimal, as students leisurely and orderly filed out, or stayed back for a departing joke, or discuss a point of concern with an obviously interested mentor.
My best grades and academic outcome were always a result of studying in the classroom of those teachers who understood the value of and knew how to go about establishing rapport with their charges, by showing an interest in each individual and delivering interesting, creative and fun lessons in a relaxed atmosphere. The respect earned by these teachers negated any need to be a dominating authoritative force in the classroom in all but the most extreme circumstances and more often than not, peer group pressure soon put an end to any negative issues.
And so it is, as I embark upon a new and exciting English teaching career, that I hope to draw from and emulate, the successful teaching strategies and rapport building abilities of those inspiring individuals that have gone before me and shown by their example, the way of the future.
?Carpe? Diem? ? ?Seize the day!? as Robin Williams? teacher character ?John Keating? said in Dead Poets Society, my most favorite and inspiring movie of all time. . Now there was a teacher, who knew how to establish rapport!
Author: Daryl Henley
Date of post: 2007-04-18