Teacher Secret — Role Models

OK, so at 20 months of age, Taylor Faith is not really reading Max Lucado’s The Crippled Lamb to her grandpa. But I love her facial expression, the sheer seriousness with which she has undertaken her task. And it doesn’t hurt that grandpa has riveted his attention to his little teacher!

Consider what role models have already taught this child. She has the book right side up. She is not playing with the sippy cup or anything else on the table. Although we  had breakfast at Panera, she was not distracted by others there. Her body language conveys the concentration level required to read… or at least to study the illustrations! Someone, or rather, many someones, have been reading to her.

Long before the magic occurs, that moment when she realizes that those shapes on the page are letters, that the letters have various sounds both individually and in combination, and that those letters make words that she can read, she will have reading modeled for her hundreds of times. Ask any weary teacher about repeating a skill over and over.

I’m not sure where I heard this phrase, and perhaps Dr. James Dobson coined it, but he said “More is caught than is taught.”

Parents see themselves in the ways their children do the simplest of tasks, like wearing sunglasses, eating vegetables first to get them off the plate, or tipping their head exactly like one of the parents does when the child wishes to avoid telling the whole story.

Years ago Tom Wenger, Sr. watched his namesake place a spoon into the coffee cup at 1 o’clock, stir counter clockwise three times, tap the spoon twice on the side of the cup, and then place the spoon, bowl facing downward on the table.  Tom nearly turned white when he realized that he had never consciously taught Tommy to do that intricate maneuver, but it mimicked the exact way father stirred!

Ever chew on your sunglasses like this?

While we may smile at family examples like these, teachers live in a fish bowl. Students watch what their educators wear, what movies they attend, what language they use on the sidelines of games, what they post or endorse on Facebook.
To the teachers who scoff, don’t care, want their freedom, or ignore their influence of the students whom they teach, I respectfully them ask to consider some other profession. America’s children are too valuable a treasure to have poor role models.

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