Wearing Students' Shoes

Students playing in Magic Garden of Peace

One day I saw kids playing. One of them was acting like a teacher while others were students. Since I am a teacher, I got interested and moved a little bit closer, so that I could see how that teacher was acting. It was a very interesting class. Students were very free to say what they thought about the lesson, they were very free to laugh any time they wanted, they were arguing with the teacher and sometimes they were very serious, especially when they were writing.

There are two very important things teachers need in the class every time they teach students. These things are students’ focus and understanding. Most of the time, if you do not get students’ attention, it is very hard for them to understand what you teach them. Many teachers have been blaming students for their behavior, hence forgetting to get to the root of the problem.

We STA teachers believe that it is the job of the teacher to know the issues the students are facing concerning learning, and come up with strategies that can help them to understand, hence solve the problem.

One of our favorite strategies is called wearing students’ shoes. What does “wearing students’ shoes” mean?

Many teachers, if not all of us, are adults. That means us and students are living in two different worlds. If we really want to get their focus and understand what we teach them, we should try to wear their shoes and live in their world. For example, if their world is the world of playing, we should teach through playing. Not only by playing, but by incorporating learning through playing the games they like.

There are two important things to consider when we are trying to wear students’ shoes. These are:

  • Their feelings
  • Their abilities

If you’re able to wear students’ shoes while considering these two things, either before planning or while planning your lessons, you’ll be asking yourself the following questions: If I were this student, how would I like the teacher to teach me? What kind of materials would I like the teacher to use? What games would I like this teacher to play with us, and what kind of language would I like this teacher to use?

Students playing and learning in classroom

Once you plan through the answers to these questions, you are likely to succeed in drawing the attention of your students in the class, hence enable them to understand your lessons.  Wearing students’ shoes doesn’t make you a student, but it helps you understand what your students want, fosters better relationships between you and your students, and help your students know your expectations, hence creating a good and safe learning environment.

After trying to wear students’ shoes for quite some time now, teachers at STA know some of the things about our students and try to teach considering them. These are:

  • Students like playing
  • Some of them need more attention
  • They have different feelings like other human beings
  • They have different talents
  • They need independence
  • They like to try new things
  • Their abilities are not all the same
  • They like to express themselves, etc.

Knowing these things help us come up with ways to teach students, which help us leave our classes smiling every day.

Students acting and playing dress up

Written and photographed by Deonidas Mukebezi, STA Teacher and Academic Advisor.

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