Student's Perception vs. Teacher's Perception

Perceptions can be tricky. I see things one way and you may see them another.  I once had a very wise principal tell me that, "It doesn't matter who is right or who is wrong. What matters is how the situation is perceived."   She had a point.  A good one. It took me awhile to see that and agree.  It all comes back to how we look at something. What angle are we viewing? What points catch our interest? 

Have you thought about applying this principle to the classroom? We may be teaching from one perspective, but our students are viewing the subject from another.  

Try switching things around when you present a topic. Start backwards. Start with the question first.  Or let a student present the lesson and become a student yourself. Ask questions. Listen and look from the other side of the room.  By doing this, you may realize that some vital part of the information we are presenting is unclear, or we may see our explanation as too vague or confusing.  Play "Stump the Teacher". Let students ask you questions about the subject to try and stump you. This is always eye-opening. I perceive some of the questions as "unfair". Just like my students perceive some of my questions as being "unfair".  This opens up a discussion that leads to deeper understanding (and better questioning). 

We may perceive something as being too juvenile for our students. Why not let them decide  if they like the cutesy posters or funny cartoon?  It might actually grab their attention. We might view something as too complicated. What is wrong with challenging our students? Nothing. And, they might surprise us. I love to challenge my students and push the bar a little higher. I love to see them attain levels that they didn't think were possible. 

When it comes to discipline, changing perspective works wonders. Put the student in your shoes. Let them solve the problem.  Oh, you can be sure that they will take their side at first. They will justify their actions. But, remind them that they are no longer the student. They are the teacher making a decision that affects not only the 'offending' student, but also the entire class. The longer they think about it, the more they will begin to take ownership of their actions. Responsibility and Accountability in action!  

Does changing perception work every time with everyone? No, nothing works for everyone all the time. There is no magic solution. There are no easy answers. Just more suggestions. Just teachers working together to share what has worked for them and what might work for you. Just sharing our perceptions with our colleagues, hoping to make our jobs a little easier.

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  1. As always, I love your posts! I love the idea of stump the helps both sides to think about issues neither had thought about.
    Lidia from The Reading Nook

    1. I love Stump the Teacher! Sometimes it is hard to tell who likes it more- me or my students :)


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