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The Student Whisperer

June 25, 2012

The recent addition of my new family member, Maximus (a muscular, miniature schnauzer), has initiated a rash of DVR tapings and family gatherings around the television to watch The Dog Whisperer. Please allow me to venture out and make an odd comparison here as I ask, are you… The Student Whisperer? The Student Whisperer is someone who creates the weather, is in command, and is learner focused.

The Dog Whisperer, Cesar, teaches the owner to create a calm environment and ensures the owner they have an excited dog, not an aggressive dog. A good instructor (and leader) intentionally creates an environment that is respectful and encourages discourse. The end result of more people talking is a dynamic collection of experiences and ideas broadening the scope of the class and creating new perspectives for the participants. This higher order thinking can be accomplished by researching and implementing dynamic activities, but it has to be done in a manner that supports new and different ideas. Lead your students by example and foster critical thinking by having the ability to present an idea to the group, and then ask everyone to throw it around, dissect it, and make it better. This can be done if the participants feel safe, and it is a great way to learn more about how your students think.

In addition to creating the environment, Cesar teaches owners to command the environment by calmly responding to the energy in the room. This may be why some instructors shy away from free discourse. They may fear the passionate energy in the room and may lose control of the discussion.  Just as in creating the environment, the instructor can maintain a commanders calm in the classroom by setting ground rules and expectations and following through. The instructor establishes the consideration of different ideas and the support of varied thoughts by encouraging a balance of data and emotion, and through this the instructor gains the trust of the class and enhances the collective experiences of the group.

Finally, Cesar reminds owners to go one step further and intentionally recognize the energy of the pet. It is easy for an instructor to collectively assess the energy of the room; however, doing so may cause missing the energy of an individual. As instructors become more and more accountable for the success of students, we must intentionally assess the energy, learning capacity, and learning styles of the individual. This is extremely difficult to do especially with the class sizes getting larger, heterogeneous abilities, and other special needs. However, when an instructor is learner focused, the return on energy is an amazing reward.

It is my hope you enjoyed this odd analogy and that it sparked some thoughts of improving your classroom.  If you are The Student Whisper, please respond to this blog and help the rest of us create the weather, demonstrate command, and be learner focused!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2012 5:07 pm

    Certainly one of my favorite shows! I am impressed with the analogy – makes a lot of sense! Cesar is a master of using psychology.

  2. June 28, 2012 6:39 pm

    Students and instructors who ‘know’ Cesar will love this! Very nice! Men whisperer? Women whisperer? Life whisperer?

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