Rules We Follow – Michael

Doing and Being: How Mike Rolls               Michael Griffin

As an enthusiastic rule finder, bender, breaker and scoffer it was interesting and hopefully useful for me to think about which rules I always try to follow. For other teachers reading this who are allergic to rules being imposed on them (like me), I must mention that these are not rules I am suggesting you follow but just sharing rules that I choose to follow for myself.

Be on time

I like to start class on time, every time. I think it is more efficient to make sure we all know when class is going to start and to do so. Starting on time one of the easiest things for teachers to control but is something that can be overlooked or forgotten. I feel the teacher starting on time is a good model for students and I don’t think we can expect students to be on time if we are not.

Be prepared

In this case, I don’t mean that I need to have mountains of handouts, all my teacher talk clearly written out, or a minute-by-minute breakdown of what I am hoping will be done in each moment of the class (though I have surely had all of these things at various times in the past). I simply mean I must have a few different ideas about different activities we might do in class while always keeping the overall goals and objectives of the course in mind. As much as I sometimes enjoy and feel comfortable “winging-it” I can’t imagine going to class without at least a few options and ideas.

Be flexible
Sometimes, regardless of how well-prepared we believe ourselves to be, we need to stray from the plan. At various times in my teaching career, I have pushed the plan or materials that I toiled over the night before too hard and have realized being stubborn about using the plan or materials is not productive for me or my students. It’s always important to keep in mind that my job is to teach the students not the plan or the material.

Be aware of students
It can sometimes be easy to forget about students as we focus on “covering” material. My personal rule is to always try to think about the students as I plan and teach especially in terms of abilities, personalities, needs, interests, and current mood and situation.

Be yourself

It is becoming more and more apparent to me how important being myself in class is to me. Part of this is because I have realized I am not so good at being anyone else and the other part is that students seem to respond to the “real me” better than any fake version of myself I might create. Being myself in this sense includes but is not limited to giving my real opinion (especially when asked), joking around, showing care for students’ lives outside of class, telling the truth, disclosing personal information when comfortable, and at times choosing not to disclose personal information.

Be positive
This is easier said than done sometimes but I think it is important for me to remember (especially on down days) how much I love my job and why I choose to do this kind of work. Thinking of this usually cheers me up, or at least helps me focus on the job at hand.

As I wrote this list I realized that a lot of my rules are things to be rather than things to do. Perhaps this shows that for me a lot of teaching is more about being than doing.

5 thoughts on “Rules We Follow – Michael”

  1. Are you my long lost twin brother? Your post resonated with me line by line, word for word. You seem to have found an excellent teacher inside of you. I’m so glad to know you and look forward to reading more of your wise thoughts.


    1. Thanks for the comment, Steven!
      It has been great meeting/knowing you!
      Looking forward to learning more and more with you.
      I am glad you liked the post and it resonated with you!
      (I loved yours as well as all the others in this series)


    1. Thanks Ratna! I really appreciate it.
      (True story…now sometimes I think, “Will Ratna like this?” as I blog. so thanks for the support and pressure!)

      Looking forward to seeing you in person soon!

  2. Yes, Michael, teaching is about being, I fully agree with you. As a student, what I enjoyed most was when we got to *know* the teacher a bit more, through an activity, when he gave his own point of view, when he cracked jokes. I loved to get to know the *person*, the human being in front of us, sitting with us, sharing with us. Because in these moments my full attention was focused on what was actually *said*, and I spontaneously (and effortlessly) recorded *how* it was said, too. Learning at its best.

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