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Inside Teaching : April 2011
www.atra.edu.au | email@example.com TEACHING TIPS 29 I don’t much like Hollywood blockbusters, but there’s a concept in the film Avatar that greatly appeals to me, and has greatly affected my practice. In it, the indigenous people, the Na’vi, of the film’s fictional planet, Pandora, have a linguistic custom that, to me, neatly sums up the key to teaching any young person, but particularly addresses what you need if you’re to succeed in your work among students who haven’t been dealt the kind of cards that anyone might want. The chief expression of the tribe is to gaze deep, deep into the eyes of the beloved, and to intone gravely the solemn but loving phrase, ‘I see you.’ Tip 1 Really see your students For me, what sums up the chief ability of any teacher who wishes to be of sufficient worth to properly earn the joyous responsibility of spending their time around the developing minds, passions and sensibilities of young people is this: the ability to really see their students, their potential for brilliance, the essence of their humanness through the somewhat obscuring clouds of sometimes distracting behaviour. A practised ability to see the good that may be dormant in a student, waiting for someone to give permission for that goodness to explode into existence, is the essence of a great teacher. Too many times I’ve gone into staffrooms in England, some of which were in the most challenging of circumstances possible, and heard the name of a student alongside whom I’ve worked with great enjoyment, linked to a plethora of negative adjectives as long as a basketball player’s arm. None of these adjectives has ever really, properly, matched my experience of the student. PHIl beadle has some advice for teachers in the early stages of their career: always smile before Easter.