Teachers as Models

Every day, our beloved teachers face decisions related to how their actions affect students' character development. Since most social learning results from observation and imitation, teachers must consider every observable aspect of their conduct. So the question remains:

How can teachers model their behaviors to help students succeed, and what actions should teachers model?

1. Model the instruction style that demonstrates your interest in learning

Teachers were once students; therefore, they know that stimulating students’ interest in learning can be tricky at times. So let’s put themselves in students’ shoes. What would they want to see from their teachers?

If the teachers show no interest in the materials and just lecture endlessly without aim, students do not have any incentive to immerse themselves in the classroom.

To effectively engage students in the lesson, teachers must behave as learners as they go about their teaching.

Ask them guiding questions that help stimulate a conversation among your students, which allows them to have multiple perspectives. You can also model the "think aloud" process -- start talking about your questions and curiosities. This activity will enable students to observe your interest in learning and therefore lead them to foster their own.

2. Model interactions outside the classroom: treat students with respect

According to a study (Tierno, 1996) about teaching as modeling, when students observe that their teachers are respectful towards others, they tend to take after those friendly behaviors. They are more likely to treat their friends and family members with respect.

Like adults, students desire relationships based on trust and understanding. Teachers who successfully establish mutually respectful relationships with students achieve the greatest success in teaching subject matter and the most positive impact as role models.

3. Model interactions inside the classroom: a classroom management strategy

Teachers might find themselves at the crossroad when they deal with disruptive students. Lucky for them, besides being a learning stimulant and establishing respect, modeling can also be a helpful classroom management strategy.

When teachers realize that some students are off-task or having disciplinary problems, teachers can ask them task-focused questions.

For example, we have mentioned above that students tend to learn from observing others. In the scenario where they are not paying attention in class, teachers can ask an on-task student a question and let him finish his answer. They can then call on the disruptive student and ask him to repeat what the other has said. This task-focused approach model produces the respectful interaction we wish to among our students and results in a behavioral change.

This strategy can significantly reduce the number of discipline problems in schools. For those non-cooperative students, teachers should treat them with respect and resilience to show them the true meaning of schools as a place to learn and thrive, not a place for punitive actions.