To understand how Teaching involves the heart, we need to remember that when we teach, we use the power of our mind. How do we teach this topic in a way that it’s easy to understand? What examples do we give that would bring out the point we wanted to emphasize? We ask ourselves questions that will reflect on the way we teach. In return, the student uses the knowledge he gained to understand the lesson. While this is a good process, we might be missing an important factor: the heart.
Okay, wait, what does the heart have to do with teaching? Well, that’s exactly the point.
Do you remember the classes you take at school? Recall the subjects. In which subjects do you perform best? If your favorite subject is Math, you must have been an Acer at computation and problem-solving. If your favorite subject is English, grammar and reading comprehension would have been as easy as A B C. Now, why are your grades higher in those subjects? That is simply because you enjoyed studying them and because you are motivated by them.
The same applies to how we teach. In order for a student to completely understand the lesson, he needs, not only to memorize the points but to instill in his heart the desire to learn. The heart is a deep chasm, representing what a person really is inside, and the challenge is to penetrate that depth and stir the student’s feelings, desires, and motivations into learning. To do that, we need to have the ability to grasp what is not readily evident.
Be keenly observant. This is a crucial aspect of teaching. When the student is talking, observe his speech. When you are talking to him, watch out for his reactions. Remember that not all communication is verbal. Just because the student can repeat everything you taught him doesn’t mean you have instilled the lesson in his heart. So while explaining, observe his reaction. There might be a topic in which his facial expression or tone of voice will change. These are cracks from his heart that are coming to light so do not ignore these glimpses.
At the same time, cultivate a caring attitude. Carefully choose your questions to expose what’s in his heart without making the student feel offended. “How do you think it applies to real life?” “What point do you think you still need improvement with?” Also, our tone of voice is important. The way we ask questions can lead to two different outcomes—either we draw out what’s in the student’s heart, or we close the crack that we had a peek on.
Your reaction to his answers is also significant. If he answered correctly, commend him. If the answer is wrong, do not immediately expose his error. Of course, it’s your job to teach your student so it’s only natural to correct him. But do it gradually, like a gentle pat on the shoulder, rather than a punch on the face. Remember that your aim is to understand the student so that you will be able to determine how to adjust your teaching. If the student felt understood, he will more likely to open his heart up to more knowledge.
Cultivate in the student the ability to think. Again, your skills in choosing the right questions will be challenged. Teaching isn’t just about spewing facts and orders on the student; rather, it’s the art of motivating him to learn. So when he asks a question, tactfully rephrase that question and throw it back to him. Instead of thinking for the student, let him draw his own conclusions along with your guidance.
Create a connection between you and your student. I personally found this effective with my teachers back in high school. If possible, be friends your student. This might be a challenge for some, fearing that a close relationship with the student might cause a loss of respect for the teacher’s position. This is why it’s important to set up a boundary. Bear in mind that your objective is to have a beneficial lecture. Be professional, and at the same time, let the student breathe and be comfortable with you without being over-familiar. Soon, the student will even be excited about your next lesson.