I have been thinking about what the phrase “Teaching is a political act” means, and how the decision influences my actions in the classroom with learners.
As I have been thinking about this, I realize the while the learners may engage more and learn mathematics at a higher level, some of their parents may be upset at the non-traditional and non-textbook orientation of the class. So what am I to do when my classroom is buzzing with excitement, the learners are engaged and focused on mathematics, and a parent files a complaint with the principal that I am not teaching out of the textbook.
My personal reaction is a giant … er … well it would not be appropriate to say out loud my first reaction. It would not accomplish anything.
So assuming I have sound pedagogical reasons for doing what I am doing. Assuming that I have solid arguments for the class going where I am taking it, and assuming that in the end, all the standards required of me are deeply uncovered and learned, how do I respond?
I really didn’t have an answer to that question. The current political climate on Facebook yields a glimpse of how those conversations end up; a shouting match. No winner.
So how do both parties walk out winners? How can we all, parents, teachers and admins, walk away from the meeting accomplishing something positive. That is the question.
I didn’t know or have a clue until I was listening to NPR and heard about “noncomplementary behavior”.
And an NPR article about it here.
Essentially, complementary behavior is mirroring what the other person does. If they are warm and friendly, you are warm and friendly in response. However, if they are cold or angry, you are cold or angry as well.
Noncomplementary behavior flips the script of conversations, which is difficult, but worthwhile.
I have been attempting (which means not always succeeding) to do this on Facebook conversations. When someone gets hostile and angry, I respond with niceness and facts. I can see doing this when parents are challenging my classroom as well. When they are hostile towards the political acts of teaching, I respond with positivity and facts.
This has the potential to be very powerful, but it takes practice. Complementary behavior is so easy to do, and it is natural to do. It takes some will power and some effort to be noncomplementary. Read the articles. Try it. I think it is easy for teachers to practice, because great teachers are constantly positive anyway.
This is the first
#mtbosblaugust post I have made. Shooting for 1 post per day this month!
Thank you Shelli Temple!