Way back when I was in 5th grade, I had a great teacher in Mr. O’Hearn. He taught English as the subject with the most impactful topic of diagramming sentences. I’m not sure if any of my children still diagram sentences, but it was a great way to learn about sentence structure. Mr. O’Hearn considered himself old fashion even for the late 70’s. Few teachers were still teaching the method of diagramming and even fewer were doing it the way he did.
Each school day the class was given 10 sentences that were written on the blackboard. We were to copy those down in our notebooks and be prepared to diagram them on the board the next day. With only 10 sentences and 30 students, not everyone was chosen to show their work the next day. The mystery was provided by Mr. O’Hearn not letting us know who was going to show their work each day. We had to be prepared.
As you can imagine, he was not the most popular teacher in 5th grade. Most students feared demonstrating their knowledge, but I thought he was great. He showed us what he was teaching, explained how he expected us to demonstrate our knowledge and held us accountable to doing the work. As each student went to the board and showed his or her work to the class, Mr. O’Hearn praised the correct demonstration. If we were wrong, he pointed out what was wrong and how to do things correctly, so the whole class could learn. He never ridiculed or embarrassed students. It was about teaching and learning.
Teaching in leadership is about simple things:
- Communicating the expected process.
- Giving assignments that reflect that process.
- Letting others demonstrate their proficiency.
- Correcting action when needed.
- Praising actions when done correctly.
Knowing what a prepositional phrase is and which word in the phrase is the object of the preposition hasn’t gotten me very far in life. Instead, Mr. O’Hearn’s lesson for me was about holding myself accountable and how others were going to hold me accountable.