What kind of teacher do you want to be?

Today I learned of the death of one of my favourite high school teachers. Ronnie Robertson was my music teacher and he was a truly gifted teacher. He was hugely knowledgeable and skilled in his subject and he taught with humour, enthusiasm and encouragement. His enthusiasm was infectious and our school had a thriving music department as a result with a large choir, orchestra and other musical groups. I loved the time I spent there and still remember lots of what I learned 30+ years later. His teaching style created engaged, enthusiastic, confident learners who learned for the sake of learning and not just because they had to.

By contrast I had a driving instructor who always made me feel stupid for making mistakes or being slow to learn something. He taught me well enough...I passed first time. But despite that my confidence was low and I didn't enjoy driving and I didn't drive for years after I passed my test. Eventually I gained confidence and now I love driving...but that's in spite of, not because of, my teacher.

How we feel about our teacher has a huge impact on how we feel about both the learning process itself and what we are learning. Think back to your own teachers…who did you enjoy learning from? The teacher who taught with clarity, kindness and a genuine wish to help you understand and love their subject? Or the teacher who asked you to do things you didn’t understand and then criticised or punished you when you got it wrong? The teacher who was unable to make you understand and then took their own frustration out on you? That teacher might succeed in drumming knowledge into you but how did you feel about them? Or the act of learning?

Our dogs are no different. Teach then with kindness, clarity and encouragement and you will create an enthusiastic learner who actively wants to work with you. Teach them harshly and you create a learner who complies only in order to avoid punishment. What kind of teacher do you want to be?

With appreciation & thanks to Mr Robertson and all the other wonderful teachers & coaches I have been privileged to have learned from in my life