This is the second in a series of three blogs I'm planning to write about setting positive limits in the classroom.
Can you tell the difference between the words authoritative and authoritarian?
If you can, which definition best describes your teaching?
Below are both definitions according to the Collins Cobuild Dictionary for Advanced Learners,
Authoritative: a person who has a lot of knowledge of a particular subject. They give an impression of power and are likely to be obeyed.
Authoritarian: a person who controls everything rather than letting people decide things for themselves.
Most of us are likely to overfly both categories for a while depending on the teaching situation and/or context.
We may feel the need to be authoritarian when people misbehave or bully their classmates, for example.
We will hopefully feel our own natural authority and be authoritative in any regular class where rapport has been built and the rules of the game are clear.
However we choose to behave, it’s important to have a clear idea of when to set limits and draw boundaries.
Limits will sometimes feel suffocating and may even leave us with a tiny space to circulate. However, delimiting the learning arena will protect the people who interact inside it.
A teacher who is controlling a 100% of the time is bound to pollute his/her class with his/her impossible demands and expectations.
I used to attend a class where the teacher had a lot of insights into her subject. She expected everyone to respond the way she wanted. Discussion was inadmissible. She never listened to us. Making mistakes was out of the question.
We worked really hard to pass her exams. We ended up learning about her subject but at the expense of our confidence.
As opposed to that type of teacher, a teacher who’s authoritative will be confident enough to delegate, to share ideas, to involve his/her learners. (S)he will clearly understand that setting positive limits and respecting those of their students’ will turn out to be empowering. Students will feel acknowledged and respected within a necessary supportive frame.
“There is no way to categorize all teaching under headings; many teachers will find elements of each category that are true for them…However, this simple categorization may help us reflect on what type of teaching we have mostly experienced and what kind of teacher we see ourselves as being now or in the future” (Jim Scriviner)
Have you got any anecdotes you would like to share?
Many thanks! Georgina
Georgina Hudson blogs by Georgina Hudson are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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