- Reflection Points Menu -
I share what I write with my students. Not only does this provide an additional model for them, something that is important (they are all ESL writers), I am also better attuned to the demands I’m placing on my students...
J. McKay / Occupational irony has always been something that I’ve enjoyed looking for in the world around me; you know, doctors who smoke, car salesmen riding public transportation to work, dieticians shopping in the plus size section, or bald hair stylists. You could probably add to this list and I hope you do by leaving a comment below.
While these contrasts are humorous , there is one professional hypocrite I’ve thought about recently--overweight distance running coaches. I know that they do exist and that is not to say that only the lithe could offer young athletes’ credible advice or help them be better harriers but the best coaches don’t just lead with their expertise, they gain their pupil’s respect through mutual experiences.
As a young runner I appreciated that my coaches would often join us for our workouts. It didn’t matter if they led the pack or brought up the rear. That they were out there with us made a big difference. We knew that they knew the conditions and the rigor of what they were asking of us to do and they were better able to adjust and adapt subsequent workouts.
Switching gears to what has brought most of you to this site, cultivating credible empathy is an important leadership quality that I try to include in my writing teaching through following the example of the running coaches of my youth. My students have a ten minute writing task every day at some point in our instructional hour. I make sure to, as often as possible, sit down and write as they write, responding to the prompt that they are responding to.
Just as they share what they write with me, I share what I write with my students. Not only does this provide an additional model for them, something that is important (they are all ESL writers), I am also better attuned to the demands I’m placing on my students as I do as they’re doing.
As the writing process continues I find I am more responsive to my students’ needs as I follow-up and give them feedback because I’ve activated my own understanding and can view the product of their experience through genuine empathy.
Have you experienced, on either end, the power of leading by example? How has it impacted your learning or your learners? I’ve saved you a seat below.