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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...
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Teachers: Be Choiceless

Beginning in their college preparation years, teachers begin to learn all sorts of strategies for the classroom. They are asked to consider their beliefs and philosophy of classroom management, instruction, assessment, community building, and parental involvement. As this occurs, teachers naturally begin to select methods of teaching, ones that resonate with them, ones that are pushed by the school district and schools, ones they read about, or ones used by teachers in neighboring classrooms.

But I’m here to say that making choices, any choice, is a mistake.

Why? As soon as you choose something, you give up or cut off the possibility of something else.

A teacher that favors collaborating learning cuts off opportunities for students to work independently. A teacher that believes strongly in direct instruction might discard hands-on activities that could benefit students. A teacher uncomfortable with more progressive movements in education, such as using mindfulness and yoga in the classroom, cuts off the chance for students to develop emotional management and learn stress-reducing strategies that could help them the rest of their lives.

Don’t choose. Be open. Embrace everything. Certain approaches and strategies might work for a certain group of students but not work with a different class. Be eclectic. Synthesize.

Pull from everywhere and see what unfolds.

The choiceless teacher is like the artist with many mediums, many colors, to choose from or the chef with many ingredients.

In my early years as a k-12 teacher, I made the mistake of totally embracing a certain teaching strategy or paradigm. It was until many years later, I realized I was limiting myself and the possibilities I could present to my students. Today, my college classroom is filled with music, meditation, food, hands-on activities, technology, group work, debates, discussions, and the like. Nothing is out of bounds. Consequently, I am enjoying teaching more than ever.

Here’s to never making choices.