I hope everyone has had a great last few weeks of their summer. I'm really excited about all of the teaching I am doing this academic year at my three universities. It's really a tremendous honor for me to work with some of the brightest and best students all across the state of North Carolina this year, and I am ready to share any and all of my knowledge with each of them.
I got inspired to write this today after listening to sports radio personalities talk about the state of quarterbacks in the NFL. In particular, the discussion focused a lot on Johnny Manziel and Robert Griffin III, who played against each other on Monday Night Football. There was a lot of talk about their playing styles, mental preparation, toughness, but the most enjoyable part of the conversation, in my opinion, was the discussion on their leadership.
We think of NFL quarterbacks as the supreme leaders of their teams, and in many cases, that statement is 100% accurate. Many of the quarterbacks in the NFL that are the most successful (consistent winners, Pro-Bowls, All-Pro, Super Bowl winners) use words such as "We, Us, the team," and other descriptors that are plural in nature when talking about a specific game or moment. Thus, the understanding is that the quarterback gets the fact that he's part of a bigger picture, and that the team is a collection of talents, working together towards a common goal.
When you listen to people like Johnny Manzeil, Robert Griffin III, or other similar players that aren't in the NFL anymore, they always use words such as, "I" or "me," to say that they are the stars, and that they are putting the team on their back. As a sports fan, it's interesting me to see that the quarterbacks and stars that usually win championships and are hugely successful usually don't put the focus on themselves. Rather, they realize that the greater good is served by all of the collective pieces working together to achieve excellence.
Teaching is very similar to this analogy with quarterbacks. I'm sure many of us have been taught by our fair share of teachers that were "I" teachers, and not "we" teachers. However, do you actually remember a lot of great moments in your education coming from teachers like that?
The #1 rule I always tell my students when it comes to teaching is this:
"If you think you know everything about something, then it's time you stop teaching that subject."
Clearly, there are many styles of teaching, and many of these styles lead to effective learning. However, the teachers that I always remember most are the "We" teachers, the Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady style of teaching. I don't often remember the moments with Johnny Manziel, JaMarcus Russell, or other similar style teachers.
As we start a new year of teaching students, let's try to remember what teaching is really about: our students growing and becoming better at what we are trying to teach them.
Andrew Smith currently serves as the Director of Athletic Bands at and Assistant Professor of Low Brass at Campbell University and is Principal Tuba of the Fayetteville Symphony. Andrew also maintains a low brass teaching studio in the Triangle region of North Carolina.