Yanhong Introduces Teacher Effectiveness Training to China

Teacher Effectiveness Training (T.E.T.) applies the same philosophy and skills of Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T) to the teacher-student relationship. T.E.T., which was developed by Dr. Thomas Gordon, who was also the creator of P.E.T., is based on the simple observation that the teacher-student relationship is very similar to the parent-child relationship in terms of its hierarchical nature.

The goal of T.E.T. is to create the maximum amount of time for students to learn and teachers to teach. As every teacher knows, learning stops when students have problems and teaching stops when students cause teachers problems. For teachers to be successful, they need a set of relationship skills. These include skills for helping students to solve their own problems so they can learn more and skills for effectively solving problems teachers have with disruptive student behavior that makes teaching difficult. T.E.T. offers a model for effective relationships in the classroom so that the time of both teachers and students is spent more profitably and with a greater sense of satisfaction and achievement for both. The T.E.T. skills enable teachers to have teachable hours and teachable days, not just teachable moments.

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Thanks to her many years of work with Chinese parents and children and her active involvement in fostering Waldorf education in China, Yanhong knew there was a huge need to improve the way that teachers in China communicate with their students. Having recently qualified as the first certified Teacher Effectiveness Training instructor for mainland China, she decided to introduce teachers there to T.E.T. with a three-day crash course in Shanghai, run in conjunction with the World Waldorf Camp’s outdoor education program.

She condensed the standard 45-hour T.E.T. course into an intensive, three-day program. She also enlisted the support of several of her previous “Art of Parenting” course participants to contribute real-life case demonstrations of teacher-student interactions and problem solving techniques. Another key objective of the workshop was to teach participants how to successfully use age-appropriate games for children and integrate them with subjects being taught in the classroom. The results of the training were impressive, with very positive feedback from the participants.

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Ruby: I benefited immensely from participating in Xiao Wu’s T.E.T. workshop. As teachers, we have unique responsibilities. We play a very different role from that of a parent, so using Parent Effectiveness Training communication techniques will not be effective in the classroom and could greatly reduce our influence over our students. For example, there is an obvious difference to how a teacher should use “Confrontational I-messages” to communicate with students compared to a parent. However the core principles of T.E.T. and P.E.T. remain the same: we never label a child needs or feeling as good or bad, right or wrong. This is the foundation stone from which we listen, and talk, to students. What we also learned from Xiao Wu is how to use a teacher’s authority in different situations to resolve problems and conflicts.

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Qi Ying: After attending Xiao Wu’s T.E.T. workshop I discovered that there were gaps between what I learned from P.E.T. and Unconditional Parenting studies and how I put my knowledge into practice. I realized that because I was so terrified of destroying relationships I would unconsciously repress my own needs and convince myself that doing so was an expression of my “love”. Through the T.E.T. course I learned that being authoritative is not the same thing as rigid enforcement, that repressing and sacrificing myself was not an expression of love, and that following such a course of action could ultimately lead to an emotional outburst and possible destruction of a relationship.

T.E.T. helped me re-evaluate and clarify my expectations of my role as teacher. It inspired me to think carefully about how I should behave as a teacher so that I could best fulfill my responsibilities to my students. I considered how a student or another person would feel about my actions and how I could effectively help them fulfill their needs and resolve their own problems. I had to confront the question of whether I was willing to spend more time and invest more energy and emotion into becoming the sort of person and teacher that I wanted to be.

Studying T.E.T. helped me better understand my own boundaries and enabled me to accept myself more calmly when dealing with other people. I learned to recognize that, while other people’s needs and feelings are important, my own feelings and needs are also important and valuable. I also learned how to communicate my own needs and feelings more clearly and to establish a relationship based on mutual respect and acceptance.

One thing I particularly liked about this workshop was how Xiao Wu balanced academic study with games and physical movement. I particularly loved the New Zealand Maori stick dance that she taught us, which was so much fun! Having to use my body helped me understand that even the best theories and knowledge are just meaningless words if they cannot be actualized through action and participation. I also came to see that using games and activities not only helps bring theories and ideas to life, it helps people find their own path to a deeper understanding of a specific topic.

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 Miao Miao: I am a high school teacher as well as head of science for 11th grade at my school. I came to this class with a lot of burning questions. I was struggling with some difficult challenges at school and I originally thought I could use Parent Effective Training techniques to resolve them. I thought that if my students could experience unconditional love and acceptance from me they would slowly start to adhere to the rules and regulations of the school and would become more proactive in their studies.

After taking Xiao Wu’s T.E.T. course I learned that I had specific responsibilities as a teacher, which were different from a parent’s responsibilities. To get the students to quickly change their attitudes about learning and discipline, I needed to direct and guide them with authority and empathy. I needed to express my feelings and explain the effects of the students’ behavior on both myself and themselves through clear and precise “I-messages”. I immediately felt happier because I knew I could rationally and reasonably express my own needs to my students, which would help them develop more fully.

I particularly liked the real-life case studies that Xiao Wu walked us through. It helped me see and experience how students felt. I can now better understand and sympathize with students who hate studying. They may want to study, but they feel powerless because they can’t keep up with what the teacher is teaching. Consequently, these students might talk in class, read books, play with their phones or sleep on their desks. The fact is that these students need more attention, support and guidance from their teachers, not less!

T.E.T. helped me become much more understanding and accepting of “problem students”. In the past whenever I was dealing with such students I would try to control myself even though I would feel a lot of emotions roiling inside me. Sometimes I would even use some of the 12 “Road Blocks” outlined in P.E.T. in my communications. After taking the T.E.T. course I realized that I no longer needed to force myself to repress and control my own feelings. As a result I feel that my ability to accept these kids has gone to a whole new level.

The songs and games that were part of Xiao Wu’s T.E.T. training created a much stronger connection between my heart and my body. I absolutely loved every single song we sung and game we played during this workshop. They helped me open my body and heart very quickly so that I could get into the training very rapidly. These three days were both fun-filled and productive. I most certainly will be incorporating a lot of the things I learned during the T.E.T. course into my own teaching methodologies from now on. The stories and games that we can tell before class starts, the songs that we can sing together, all of this will help me and my students enjoy the “now” of the moment, help us become more unified and cohesive and value every moment that we spend together. I sincerely hope that more people study T.E.T. so that more teachers can experience the joy and happiness that is inherent in the teaching profession!

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Jessica: I have two key takeaways from the T.E.T. training course. The first concerns how adults engage in “Third Party Facilitation”. I was forced to let go some of some strongly held notions about what this entails. As a mediator, I must accept that there are issues that I cannot solve just through my own active listening and facilitation efforts. I learned to accept that there will not always be completely satisfactory solutions to every conflict or challenge. Giving up these expectations helped me become more relaxed. I also realized that I needed to relinquish some of my own arrogance when dealing with such situations.

My second take away concerns the connectedness of my body. I have previously participated in Xiao Wu’s “Art of Parenting” course and even got myself accepted into her Art of Parenting Instructor Training program. I thought I understood the importance of art in children’s life. But it wasn’t until I attended Xiao Wu’s T.E.T. workshop that I realized that, up until then, all my “knowledge” was purely intellectual and just in my head. After learning the New Zealand Maori stick dance and the mirror cross running game I experienced for the first time in my life a joy that emanated from within my body rather than just inside my mind!

It wasn’t the sort of happiness that you experience when something that you know is good happens and you should enjoy it; and it wasn’t the sort of pleasure one gets from the physical senses like smell or sight or touch. It was a joy that came from the feeling of one’s body working in perfect harmony with itself and from the release of energy that this entails. It’s the same feeling that a musical ensemble must feel after it is finally able to play a tune together perfectly, as if it were one instrument working in seamless harmony and not simply a collection of parts thrown together. I’ve learned that I need to look for every opportunity to move my body more so I can experience that same joy and pleasure in everyday life and in my teaching!