Cat's in the Cradle (Part 1)

Singer-songwriter Harry Chapin wrote a song in 1974 with which I have a love-hate relationship. Well, hate is probably too strong of aword. Perhaps “discomfort” might be more appropriate. I love the music and I love the lyrics until I start applying them to myself. Then, well, it makes me a tad “uncomfortable.”

My first thought when I hear or read the lyrics are of my job as mother to my two children. Have I invested time in them? Have I listened when they had a concern or a funny story to share? Have I spent time doing things they want to do, demonstrating that I value them?

But I can readily apply these soul-felt lyrics to my teaching. Have I invested time in my students? Have I listened to their concerns or enjoyed a joke with them? Do I communicate that I truly value them as individuals?

Good teaching involves not only the dissemination of information but also demonstrating love and concern for my students. I need to set a good example. I need to find ways to show them that I really care. Our students, like our own children listen to us and watch us as they grow and develop – often copying our smallest habits and our greatest flaws.

This means we must model the attitudes and behaviors we want to see in our students. It doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, because that’s impossible. In fact, it is crucial that we let our students see our failures and how we respond to them as an example of how they should deal with conflict, setbacks, and failure. How else will they learn to restore relationships and overcome difficulty?

The following blog post will explore how we, as teachers, can help students build virtue as a way to maintain healthy relationship and overcome difficulty.

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