The art of education

By on April 8, 2009

Mary Cowhey, a primary education teacher and author of the book, “Black Ants and Buddhists: Thinking Critically and Teaching Differently in the Primary Grades,” visited Quinnipiac on March 31 to talk to students. She discussed the importance of teaching style and how teachers should take notice to the different perspectives their students have.

“There are 10 rules that you need to know to teach,” Cowhey said. “The first is that the relationship between the parent and the teacher is the crucial first step to becoming a great teacher.”

Cowhey visited the homes of her students prior to the first class to understand the family and where the students came from. She also noted that parents are a teacher’s “best resource.”

Another main point Cowhey discussed was to listen to the children.

“Take a breath and listen to the kids – sometimes they are funny and can make you laugh,” she said.

According to Cowhey, by listening to the students, many teachable moments emerge. She said that kids always have questions and rather than ignoring them, it is beneficial to answer them as well as ask questions back.

“The key to teaching is knowing that there is a curriculum framework to follow,” she said.

She said the students that talk the least have the most to say, and that it is important for a teacher to notice this and challenge that student to share his or her thoughts.

The last point Cowhey made was to keep humanity in the classroom and work for something you believe in.

“You put your heart and soul into it, work for someone with similar values,” Cowhey said.

Kyra Emmerich, a senior education major, was thrilled to hear the advice Cowhey had to offer.

“I felt Ms. Cowhey was extremely informative,” Emmerich said. “It showed me that it was okay to be more interactive and move away from tradition when teaching.”

Emmerich said that Cowhey helped her understand the essential characteristics that were needed to teach, that aren’t taught to you in a classroom.

Cowhey began her career in education 12 years ago and currently is a first and second grade teacher at Jackson Street School in Massachusetts. She said the school is very economically diverse as well as racially and religiously.

With budget cuts next year, classes will be up to 35-40 students per class, Cowhey said. She emphasized how important it is to learn to listen and adapt to the students, as the environment they will be learning in will be changing as well.

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