• Emotional teaching is what differentiates a competent teacher from a connecting teacher.
• Connection is how you relate with your learners and enables a teacher to get to their level and understand their state of preparedness, retention and concentration.
Teaching is often mistaken by mediocre teachers to be a physical exercise.
I have been teaching for the last 18 or so years and I am now persuaded that it is not. By physical here I mean going to class with text books, pieces of chalk and dictating notes from the front.
It is also not walking into a class and lecturing students on a given topic. This kind of teaching is mechanical and leaves no impression on your learners. Besides, it is not even giving exercises and walking round the class with a red pen marking exercises.
A red pen because it signifies a teacher’s authority as blue and black represents the learners'. Teachers who take teaching to mean any of or all the above end up getting miserable results.
Emotional teaching is what differentiates a competent teacher from a connecting teacher. Competence and connection play a vital role in teaching. A teacher is hired owing to his competence, but a teacher produces because of his/her connection with learners. Great teachers emotionally connect with their learners.
The Wikipedia dictionary defines competence as “a combination of knowledge, skills and behaviour used to improve performance; or as the state or quality of being adequately or well qualified, having the ability to perform a specific role.”
Teaching has evolved over the past century to an emotional connection between the learners and the teacher. Teachers pursue courses in colleges and universities to gain book knowledge, skills and behaviour that will effect teaching. This competency is gained through books.
At the end of the courses, some teachers emerge with a higher degree of competency than others. The next place they find themselves in classrooms. While there, it so happens that the teacher whose level of competence was rated higher by their college and university performs dismally in class. Wasn’t this higher rating meant to justify later performance in teaching? Why then do tables turn? It is for the simple reason that good college and university grades do not always translate to expected performance in classroom teaching.
Competency can, therefore, be evaluated, particularly during job interviews where some people come across as more competent than others yet they did the same courses. Even in the other fields of employment, there is never a guarantee that a person will be as good as his college or university grades. Why is there always a huge disconnect between the grades and performance? Where don’t people just apply their knowledge commensurately with their good grades? Well that is a topic for another day.
Connection is how you relate with your learners. This emotional connection enables a teacher to get to their level and understand their state of preparedness, retention and concentration. This is empathetic teaching. You are dealing with people with feelings.
If you are the type of teacher who wants to prove to your learners how much knowledge you know, then you create a barrier between yourself and your students and with time, your learners will resent your boastfulness. You will make them feel that you are too educated for them to catch up with. You will not be motivating them to reach your level but communicating to them how hard it would be for them to get to where you are.
The shortcut to good connection with learners is to go down to their level. It is that simple. This does not make you a lesser teacher but it makes your students to be proud of their ‘simple’ teacher. The day you will start connecting emotionally with your learners is the day you will discover how simple it is to teach.
"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." This quote by Theodore Roosevelt is very profound. Show your learners how much you care then they will care to learn what you teach.
Ashford Gikunda is a MA student in Project Planning & Management at UoN and author of Teacher Preparedness & Effective Classroom Management Skills.