What we know and have learned about teaching does not always match how we actually teach in class every day. Many factors determine our daily actions as teachers, but the most surprising fact is that our implicit or unconscious ideas have more power over our behavior in the classroom than the explicit or conscious ones.
OUR IMPLICIT OR UNCONSCIOUS IDEAS HAVE MORE POWER OVER OUR BEHAVIOR IN THE CLASSROOM THAN THE EXPLICIT OR CONSCIOUS ONES.”
Both teachers and students have their own theories about what learning and teaching mean, although we might not be aware of it. By observing the educational style of teachers, we can determine their beliefs about how we learn, on whom the success of the learning depends and how we must teach to help students learn. The answers to these questions, no matter what they are, in large part come from teachers’ cultural inheritance.
They mostly stem from what teachers have experienced throughout childhood and adolescence rather than the formal education received during their professional training. Thankfully, this does not prevent us from changing and evolving by reflecting on our own teaching practices and internalizing new ideas.
KNOWING YOURSELF AS A TEACHER IS ESSENTIAL IF YOU WANT TO EVOLVE IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE.”
Analyzing and knowing yourself as a teacher is essential if you want to evolve in your professional practice and adapt to new educational scenes. Our relations with students and our actions in the classroom are indicators that reveal our teaching profile and the way in which we practice teaching.
Researchers (Claxton, 1990; Pozo, 1996) have observed the following teaching profiles:
How they teach
How students learn
On whom success depends
|Petrol-pump attendant or supplier||The teacher has objective knowledge and shares it with students through verbal explanations.||Students learn by carefully repeating what’s been explained.||The amount learned depends solely on the skill and effort of the student.|
|Sculptor or model||The teacher has objective knowledge and thinks that we must teach through demonstration.||Students learn through intentional activity and a lot of practice.||The quality of the learning depends solely on the skill and effort of the student.|
|Watchmaker or trainer||The teacher is the manager of objective knowledge, and distributes it in small pieces to students, fitting all the pieces together perfectly, according to the predesigned model.||Students learn small steps through a lot of repetition until they manage to reproduce exactly what’s been taught.||The quality of the learning depends solely on the skill and effort of the student.|
|Sherpa or tutor||The teacher knows the subject area he teaches but gives the student the responsibility of choosing the method of learning, acting as a guide.||Students can go beyond the literal reproduction and they achieve it through explorations, experimentation and construction.||
The teacher is responsible for the quality of the learning, since he depends on his own skills to guide the students properly.
|Gardener or advisor||The teacher knows the subject area he teaches and participates in the learning process just to create the conditions to reach the next step in the process or learn together with the students.||The student can regulate his learning himself. Learning is the result of a dialogue, in which contents, up to certain point, are relative and therefore are not the purpose of the teaching.||The learning results are measured according to the increase of certain skills in the students and are the responsibility of the teachers.|
Certain profiles, such as the petrol-pump attendant or the sculptor, are more related to a direct and traditional understanding of education. On the contrary, the sherpa and gardener roles refer to new forms of understanding education in the 21st century.
Bearing in mind our past experience as students, which formed our implicit ideas, we can understandably still say that 21st century students are taught by 20th century teachers in 19th century schools.
Changing teaching styles requires changing what teachers, students and other educational agents think teaching and learning mean. To change our mentalities, we must know first what our ideas are, what they consist of, how they exhibit themselves in our daily work, and what processes will work to modify them.