Empathy is a powerful teaching tool in the classroom
Chris Sawyer | Friday, March 13, 2015
One manifestation that I have experienced and witnessed countless times in my teaching here at OISE London of this kind of empathy has been the passionate exchanges of advice from teacher to student of ways to study and improve, during and after courses taken here.
How many times have we as teachers rooted for and championed our students' success in learning? Countless! A beautiful part of our job, and a powerful
teaching tool I find, is when two things happen and are inextricably linked: Friendship and trust grows between student and teacher, which then embed
a deeper empathy, within the teacher, to help the students learn.
One manifestation that I have experienced and witnessed countless times in my teaching here at OISE London of this kind of empathy has been the passionate
exchanges of advice from teacher to student of ways to study and improve, during and after courses taken here.
However, as erudite as we all are, in my humble opinion, as teachers, in theories of language acquisition and learning, I have found experience to be a
critical factor in passing on advice; experience and knowledge. Never have I worked with a team of teachers who have so many second languages among
them. Some, a third! The struggles our students are going through have been met and overcome by us teachers and it is this that I personally feel passionate
about when teaching. As a speaker of Japanese at around a B2 level, I have so much to say on study plans, study methods; vocabulary gathering, recording
and retention. The success I had, I want to pass on. Even the failures I had, I want to pass. Any advice is valued and I can't give enough.
Whether a teacher can speak a second language or not is not important in the classroom; we are all highly qualified and know our trade extremely well.
But, as the saying goes: Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn. My involvement with my own continuing language
studies connects me deeper to theirs. It is this empathy that carries extra special meaning for me within the classroom and provides me with a formidable
tool to help enable the learner.
Written by Brian, longstanding teacher at OISE London.