Creating a Classroom Where Fun and Learning Happens
For a teacher of Tarot, we start on a positive because most of our students want to be there. They may be nervous about the content, but mostly they are eager to learn. However, we can’t assume everyone is at the same level of emotional readiness or experience. When a new class assembles, we can do some things to get people on similar harmonious plane. Students need to feel respected, intellectually safe, and physically comfortable.
One of my first teachers said, “You can do this the hard way, shivering on a cliff, or you can engage and do it comfortably here in my den.” I choose comfort whenever I can. My life changed when that same teacher said at the beginning of a year-long class, “You are in charge of your own comfort.” She went on to say if we needed to go to the bathroom, depending on where we were in the class, we needed to slip out and take care of things, or ask her for a break. That made a big difference in how I attended meditation and other related classes.
I have developed a set of classroom “rules,” and often I will ask the class if they have anything else to add.
- Be here Now: Be engaged, be on time, express doubts, ask questions, exchange ideas, listen actively, and participate.
- Take responsibility for your learning: ask questions, let me know when you get lost (ask for directions!), express frustrations, joys, concerns, and don’t suffer.
- Help the group learn: be aware of others’ needs, encourage others to talk, to share the limelight, to be present in learning
- Lean into your discomfort: push the envelope, be smart about your spirituality/learning, know your limits and don’t destroy your boundries–push at them.
- Maintain sensible confidentiality: what happens in class stays in class, or, don’t disclose personally revelations and respect people’s anonymity
- Manage your comfort needs: you are responsible for your own comfort. Food, drink, comfort breaks. Seek to solve your own dilemmas and ask for help when needed.
In some ways this is what is commonly called, “giving them permission.” Some people won’t need it, but other people will need the acknowledgement and encouragement to be in charge of their learning, their experience in your class, and their behavior. In giving them permission, you allow them to co-create the class with you. To be part of the classroom design. You may know the content and you may be a great communicator, but in doing this, you allow them to partner with you. So you are no longer the great “sage on the stage,” opening their heads and pouring your knowledge in, but you are down on the ground with them, exchanging information and knowledge, discussing and everyone will learn.
One of the greatest secrets of teaching is that you learn a great deal more than the students; about yourself, about the Tarot, and about how you relate to the cards, people, and yourself. And isn’t that why we’re in this, after all?