Teaching as a Human Activity

Ways to Make Classrooms Joyful and Effective

J. Amos Hatch, University of Tennessee

Published 2021

This is a book for teachers, especially new and soon-to-be teachers. It’s a book from one teacher to other teachers who care deeply about what goes on in schools, who see teaching as a calling, who want to make their time in classrooms life changing for the students they are lucky enough to teach. This book is meant to inspire as much as instruct.

The lessons that make up the body of this book are organized around five questions that every teacher needs to consider: (1) What can I do to be sure I realize my dream of making a positive difference in the lives of my students? (2) How can I make my teaching effective by building on vital human connections with my students? (3) How can I make my classroom management effective, while encouraging my students to become self-regulating agents of their own behavior? (4) What are instructional approaches that will engage my students in shaping their own development and learning? (5) What can I do to ensure my successful initiation into the teaching profession and avoid burnout in the future? Four lessons are included in each of the five parts defined by these questions.

This book celebrates the passion, commitment and intelligence that teachers bring to their profession. Bright, caring individuals are called to teaching because they feel a powerful drive to touch the lives of young people and to make a difference in the world. The approaches advocated in these pages seek to take advantage of the commitment, drive, and brainpower teachers bring to their avocation. The lessons explored foreground the humanity of teaching and highlight ways teachers can experience the satisfaction of sharing meaningful, learning-filled connections with their students.

Dedication. Introduction: Who Is Guarding the Meaning? PART I: WHAT CAN I DO TO BE SURE I REALIZE MY DREAM OF MAKING A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF MY STUDENTS? CHAPTER 1: Our Goal Should Be to Make a Difference in the Life of Every Student We Teach. CHAPTER 2: Students Need a Purpose to Give Energy to Schooling. CHAPTER 3: Classrooms Need to Be Places Where Everyone Has a Stake in Everyone Else’s Success. CHAPTER 4: It Is Shortsighted to Think That Having Fun Is a Worthy Goal for Classroom Activity. PART II: HOW CAN I MAKE MY TEACHING EFFECTIVE BY BUILDING ON VITAL HUMAN CONNECTIONS WITH MY STUDENTS? CHAPTER 5: Teaching That Ignores the Humanness of Students and Teachers Is Joyless and Limited in Effectiveness. CHAPTER 6: Students Need to See Learning as an Inherently Valuable Human Activity and That They Are Fully Capable Learners. CHAPTER 7: Loving Students Is Not Enough; Teachers Need to Be Warm Demanders. CHAPTER 8: Teaching Focused on Human Processes Could Make School More Meaningful to Students and Teachers. PART III: HOW CAN I MAKE MY CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT EFFECTIVE WHILE ENCOURAGING MY STUDENTS TO BECOME SELF-REGULATING AGENTS OF THEIR OWN BEHAVIOR? CHAPTER 9: Teaching Self-Respect Is Way More Important Than Developing Positive Self-Concepts. CHAPTER 10: Teachers Need to Make Rules That Make Sense and Reflect the Genuine Purposes of the Classroom. CHAPTER 11: When Teachers Get in Power Struggles with Students, We Lose Every Time. CHAPTER 12: Understanding Facework Principles is Essential to Building Positive Classroom Cultures. PART IV: WHAT ARE INSTRUCTIONAL APPROACHES THAT WILL ENGAGE MY STUDENTS IN SHAPING THEIR OWN DEVELOPMENT AND LEARNING? CHAPTER 13: Scaffolding Is the Most Powerful Teaching Strategy Invented so Far. CHAPTER 14: Teaching Students to Think Would Enrich the Education Experience and Better Prepare Students to Operate in an Increasingly Complex World. CHAPTER 15: In Order to Operate Successfully in the 21st Century, Students Need to Become Critically Literate Consumers of Information in its Multiple Forms. CHAPTER 16: Teachers Need to Understand and Demonstrate to Their Students That Technology Has Value in so Far as it Enhances the Human Experience in School and Beyond. PART V: WHAT CAN I DO TO ENSURE MY SUCCESSFUL INITIATION INTO THE TEACHING PROFESSION AND AVOID BURNOUT IN THE FUTURE? CHAPTER 17: Teachers Need to Design and Monitor Their Own Socialization Into the Field. CHAPTER 18: It is Risky for Teachers to Depend on Students’ Love as Their Major Source of Intrinsic Job Satisfaction. CHAPTER 19: Lone Ranger Teachers May Seem Heroic; But Everyone Needs Support, Encouragement, and a Sense of Community. CHAPTER 20: Great Teachers Must Not Burn Out; We Need Them to Guard the Meaning. Postscript: What Does Teaching as a Human Activity Look Like During a Time of Crisis? About the Author.