I have a lot to learn about teaching! Observing my husband give first time mowing lessons today, gave me some new perspectives. My spouse is a natural born teacher!
The first thing I noticed is that my husband didn’t just give instructions and then walk away and say, “now do a good job.” No. Instead, he showed our son the process, walking carefully together as they both held onto the mower. The old “modeling” idea was playing out right there in the newly verdant grass. I think this can be a short- fall of mine. I can get too excited and hurried and I literally fling the student out there to do a great job having only observed the concept once.
Next, I heard these words, “You’ve got to pay attention.” Now, this is important, because when you’re mowing, you don’t want to hit rocks or dog bones or little critters in the grass. The same things goes with teaching students. I need to remind them that “they need to pay attention” to the details. It’s one thing to know a concept, and its another thing to pay attention to the nuance and the fine details of writing or reading, as the case may be.
“Always wear your shoes,” was another little tip he gave. Boy, that one will come in handy. Little tips mean the world in teaching. Its the transferring of lessons we’ve learned on to the student, like “there’s a rat in separate,” or “a semicolon will give variety here,” that really impact and stay with my learners.
Finally, as my boy was feeling rather confident with his new skill, my husband said, “You’ve got to know when to let go.” This was literally my favorite instruction and it is so important. In this case, my husband was referring to letting go of the lever that self-propels the lawn mower. “You don’t want to hit someone,” he said, which makes perfect sense. As a teacher, I need to be a little more in tune sometimes about when to let go of the lever, to quit driving and let things play out in a class discussion or in a creative project.
Before I knew it, my 11 year old had mowed the grass beautifully. His dad was observing the accomplishment from the side yard with a smile.
“Another one learns to mow,” he said. “That means I’m gonna have to start mowing the grass again one day,” he said with an air of been-here-before on his face. He’s right. These young mowers get their beginnings right here in our yard and then they move on to greener pastures. If we’ve done it right, that is.