As a teacher you are called to teach. However, I believe you also must be teachable as a teacher. If we want our students to be teachable, we must be teachable ourselves. I am going to share two examples of experiences I have had. One with a non-teachable teacher and one with a teachable teacher.
Winter semester, with Kinnect, a BYU dance group, we had the opportunity of presenting a workshop to teachers during a conference they were attending. We demonstrated ways to incorporate dance into their classrooms with examples and lesson plan ideas. This was a great experience to interact with local educators, hear their great ideas, and learn about the hard work they were putting into their classrooms everyday. Most of these teachers were excited to have us there and learn new ways to incorporate the arts into their teaching. However, we had one educator who was not willing to learn. She was very hard to work with due to her rude comments and negative attitude. She was so set in the way she teaches that she brushed off Kinnect’s ideas and believed there was nothing more to learn. She had her teaching techniques down and was not about to change them.
Later, we split the teachers into groups during the workshop to come up with specific lesson plans to share with the other groups. It was only when the teachers cooperated and listened to the ideas of others in the group, instead of criticizing, that we were able to get something done. When all the teachers were teachable it became a pleasant experience for all.
During our tour, Kinnect went to a small school in Southern Utah. At this school, I taught a wonderful second grade class. The students were excited, they participated a lot in the lesson, and were very creative. One of the things that made this class go so well, however, was their teacher. Lessons always go so much better when the teacher was involved and excited about what you were teaching. When their teachers wanted to learn, the students wanted to learn. This particular teacher danced with us, watched her students’ performances, and made comments throughout the lesson. I loved it and so did the students! After the class the teacher came up to me and told me she has been wanting to add dance in her classroom and was wondering if there was a way she could get more ideas for lesson plans like the one I had shared with her class. I was ecstatic! I called this teacher my “golden contact” just as an LDS missionary might call someone who is just waiting to hear the Gospel. Never had I had a teacher so excited about dance and about adding something new into her teaching techniques! I gave her the Kinnect website, www.byukinnect.org, and thanked her graciously. She was a very teachable teacher who, just like her students, wanted to learn something new everyday.
It can become a common view of teachers that their techniques must be right, cannot be changed, and are better than the techniques of other teachers. This attitude is poisonous for the teacher, their students, and the atmosphere of the classroom. We are always learning as teachers. For some ideas on how to be more teachable, there is a great blog by leadership speaker and author, John Maxwell, at http://johnmaxwellonleadership.com/2011/01/24/how-do-i-maintain-a-teachable-attitude/.
One of the most important ways we can be more teachable is by watching our own students. We learn something new from our students everyday. So much can be learned from children because of their honesty and humility. It has been a testimony builder for me to have the experience of teaching children and beginning to understand why God loves His little ones so much. He wants us all to have the qualities of little children and, as the end of Mosiah 3:19 states in the Bible, “…becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”