Recently, a close friend of mine said, “if one doesn’t connect with his/her students, he/she won’t get further with teaching.”
Honestly, it has never crossed my mind that a connection with my student would be so important. I have always been a relational person. I value connection for sure, but I never thought that it was that important.
What is rapport? What is this connection that is so vital? Is it possible to not have rapport and still be able to teach? I thought of all the times when I had a lecturer that reads off slides. They are simply fulfilling a job. Was I still learning? Yeah of course, but I did not enjoy the learning process. Compare that with someone passionate about the subject. They way they present the content is different. The way they teach is different. You feel excited learning this module.
Is that all to it? Passion? Of course not. One can be passionate and you can be swept up with his/her love for it, but it is still possible to talk about something you love to someone without rapport with them. I can talk about sound, drums and music, but because it is something so close to my heart, I am baring a bit of my soul to people. I am showing people what I love and hoping that people would love sound, drums and music as much as I do. Unknowingly, I would make myself vulnerable to connect with my audience.
I thought about another thing that good lecturers do. They would say things like, “this part is really tricky, do take some time to try and understand this.” Or things like, “let me teach you guys an easier way to remember this.” Or, “very confusing right? Just remember it is a and not b.”
When a teacher does this, you will know two things. Your teacher understands how difficult it is to learn something and that your teacher cares.
This is totally different from being passionate. This is going the extra mile to simplify something for people. It isn’t, I receive a problem, I propose a solution; a teacher isn’t just a problem solver. A good teacher is someone that not only explains clearly, but simply.
I also pointed out that there is a difference between teaching and coaching. Teaching is from ground up, giving you information and correcting you when you are wrong. Coaching is a different job altogether. If you have been in a field for long, you will understand that there are many ways to do one thing. Not only that, certain things that your teacher once told you not to do are actually not wrong! :O
For example, during my first drum lesson. I dug my drum sticks into the drum pad. My teacher corrected my stroke because letting the stick bounce is what I should be doing 99% of the time. After playing for a while, I realised that digging your sticks into the drum could be used to give a different sound and effect. It is there if I want to use it, it isn’t wrong.
A coach is someone that is experienced and gives not only solutions, but suggestions to make you better at the craft. You would often hear a coach say, “What you are doing is not wrong, but I think you can achieve a better result if you try this.”
A coach is someone that can help a good player become great. For a musician, it is a person that helps shape one’s music choices and stylistic decisions. For a sport, it is a person that helps one do something more efficiently.
I think that I have gone a bit off topic. Back to rapport.
Having rapport with your student is so important because you will know what your student wants to achieve and you will help your student get there much faster. Not only that, if you have rapport with your student, you will encourage your student to do something even though they feel what they do is not up to standard. Having my teacher say, “it is alright, try again!” Has encouraged me to continue to do what I love even though I might not be good at it.
Once you go past the incompetency stage into the competency stage, teachers with good rapport are the ones that inspire greatness. I will never be where I am today if KL did not share his love of audio with me. I won’t play as well as I do now if C and J had not helped me through my journey. Sure, when I see Chad Smith play, I get inspired to play and sound like him, but without the encouragement from and rapport with my teachers. I doubt I would continue with what I do today.
I think it would be very sad if a person with all the passion for something, lost their interest for it because they met a bad teacher. I hope no one loses their passion for something because of me.