In teaching, one of the key words that always comes up in instructional strategies is modeling. Teachers should demonstrate what it looks like so that the students have a reference point to be successful. In writing, a teacher would provide an example of a sound thesis statement. In Physical Education, the teacher would teach the students how to stretch properly by showing them what it looks like rather than simply giving them verbal instruction. This is obviously sound teaching and in addition to showing the students how to carry out tasks, it gives them confidence to begin. This really is teaching 101.
However, I would like to propose that modeling is much more than that. We as committed educators, parents, and communicators want to be the ultimate models. We strive to inspire our students to be risk takers, ambitious leaders, innovative thinkers, and creative producers of high quality products. So we have to strive to do more than just model the task at hand. We have to be models of several things.
Think about this scenario. A teacher is in front of the class giving instructions on a writing assignment that the students will do about a foreign country. She provides an example of an introductory paragraph with a solid thesis, and a conclusion based on supporting evidence. After providing this, she tells the students what country they will be researching and then tells them to begin. She walks to her desk, sits down, and begins grading papers from another. class. This is a regular part of her routine and other than leaving right at the bell everyday, the students don't much at all about their teacher.
Sure the teacher modeled the assignment. And of course she has the right to grade papers. However, this is the old form of modeling we have to shatter. We have to inspire our students to explore the amazing culture and history of other countries. We have to share our experience of travel with students no matter what that may consist of. We have to go participate in things that challenge us professionally and come to our classrooms invigorated with what we learned. We have to be life long learners and people who demonstrate a love for teaching and for students.
The ultimate model is the teacher you still remember and love from high school. The ultimate model inspires not just quality work but curiosity and creativity. Our lives should be models of success, passion and love to our students. We need to be ultimate models. Leading is Teaching.