10 Surfing Principles that Apply to Teaching

In the article Wisdom of the Wave, Laird Hamilton says that in every new experience he applies lessons he has learned on the water. I thought I would use his lessons and apply them to the classroom.

1. KNOW THAT YOU ARE A SPECK ON THE WATER. As a teacher, I sometimes think things should revolve around my classroom and my students. I need to remember that a principal needs to look at the whole school when making a decision. The Superintendent needs to look at the whole school district. Even if things don’t work out for me, I need to remember that it isn’t always all about me.

2. GO BIG OR GO HOME. I can’t “kind of” teach. I can’t teach only the good students or the students who seem to get it faster than others. I need to teach all of the students and attempt to meet all of their needs. I can’t do a mediocre job because I have a lot of influence that can affect students for the rest of their lives.

3. LISTEN TO YOUR GUT. Your instinct will go a long way when teaching. Sometimes you will know you did a good job with a student because you will know it in your heart. If something doesn’t feel right, you need to listen to your instincts and look for another way.

4. UNDERSTAND YOU’RE NOT IN CONTROL. Teachers cannot control students no matter what kind of classroom management you use. You can only hope to change their behavior. Sometimes this may only work by changing your own behavior. Students may behave differently on any given day, and you need to understand that there is nothing you can do to control this.

5. GET WET. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Sometimes when you just bite the bullet and try something, you will find out that it turns out better than you thought.


6. PUT THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE. Talk to others about some of your difficulties. You might find out things are not as bad as you think, or you might find that it helps to get someone’s opinion. Don’t keep things to yourself and let it get blown out of proportion.

7. KEEP LEARNING. Teaching and learning go hand-in-hand. It is a lifelong process. There are always new technology tools being developed or new research being shared. Teachers need to be on top of current research in their field.

8. BE DETERMINED. Don’t give up. Keep trying because students need this kind of role model. When they hit a difficult spot, they need to know that you can relate to what they are feeling.

9. DON’T GET STALE. Work on professional development. Think about what you can learn from others and also what can you add to the conversation. Professional development should be a two-way street.

10. DON’T JUDGE. Be careful about thinking that your way of teaching is the only way. It may be the only way for you but not for others. Different students may respond to different teachers because not all teachers teach the same way. Don’t think that students should only learn your way.

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