An Authoritative Ally: Credibility and Authenticity
“In students’ eyes an important component of a successful learning is regarding the teacher as both an authority and an ally. As an authority, students want to know that their teachers have something useful and important to offer and that they know their stuff. As an ally, students want to know that their teachers are genuinely concerned with helping them learn and that classroom activities, grading rubrics, and homework assignments are all designed with that in mind . . . all of which is to say they want to feel that you're dealing with them honestly in an adult way.”
– Stephen Brookfield from his book “The Skillful Teacher”
For further thought…
Many times, the pastor as Bible class leader has a built-in authority, something that typically grows in proportion to time spent at a given call. The evangelical encouragement is probably worth mentioning that while experience can establish authority, it shouldn’t be the only thing that establishes authority. The authority that comes from prayer and time spent in the Word, from dedicated preparation and high-level mastery of the content, goes a long way toward establishing continued credibility.
Do you have any classroom habits that might undermine your goal to be an ally to your adult learners? (For example, could good-natured “back and forth” that you have with one learner be out of place with another more sensitive student?)
What are some things that you can do to help your learners see you as an authentic ally in learning? (For example, transparency regarding problems that you wrestled with in preparing the lesson can reassure them that you are not only the teacher but also a student who’s learning with them.)