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SURPRISE!... But not really. Distance learning wins again. I think any one of us could've guessed that schools weren't reopening anytime soon. I, for one, wasn't buying this story of the initial "two-week" hiatus being due to returning holiday travelers and mandatory quarantine time. How many people actually traveled anyway? Surely not enough to shut down every school in the country? And is this round of distance learning the one where I finally lose my mind? Burning questions all. For now, though, I began thinking of ways to get my daughter (and myself) through this latest stretch of home-schooling a little bit better. She hasn't been responding as well to it/me this year, and I got to thinking about authority. There are four main types of authority a teacher can have. I'm going to share with you those types so that you can find the one that suits you best and hopefully give you an easier time with your children!


Legitimate authority means you were assigned a role or position which implies authority. For example, a teacher is listened to (usually) because they are the teacher; it is a role that students have learned to accept as the person responsible for the management of the classroom. For it to work best, you must maintain the air of legitimacy, basically by fitting the stereotype of dress, speech, behavior, etc. You must be confident in expecting to be given respect. I do believe, however, that this type of authority will only be effective for so long; one must prove themselves worthy of the position for it to be truly effective. If students see that you are not a good teacher, that you're unfair, and that you never listen to them, for example, you will lose your authority.


This is also referred to as Attractive Authority, because it is based on people seeing you as a decent, honest, helpful, friendly person. Students believe you care about them and their learning, so they let their guard down. This is like that teacher you had in high-school that actually cared, always made everyone laugh, and was never too harsh with mistakes or misbehavior. Because they were "cool", they had buy-in from the students who were inclined to behave out of respect and trust that whatever the teacher was doing doing was in their best interest. Be careful, however, of not letting this authority type turn into a friendship; it should stay clear that it is still teacher and student.


A teacher may also gain authority by being an expert in the subject they are teaching. When students see that a teacher is highly knowledgeable, well prepared, and able to teach skillfully, they allow them to lead without much resistance. When someone demonstrates wisdom and knowledge, we see them as having "intellectual capital", and we see value in listening to them. The same can be said about adults and their managers; when your boss barks orders at you and you can tell they don't know what they're doing, it can be a lot harder to follow those orders. When they explain things well, however, and seem to get things right all the time, you'll be much more comfortable letting them run the show.


This type of authority relies on the students knowing (or at least feeling like) the teacher is able to reward or punish them for their performance or behavior, so they listen. Rewards a teacher could give are often in the form of praise, more lenient grading, more friendly treatment in class, better reports to their parents, and more. The opposites, of course, can be used as punishment instead. It can be effective, but teachers must keep their system consistent to avoid the perception of bias that could cause students to resist even more. Also, I advise teachers to keep bring the focus back on the intrinsic reward of learning and its related benefits, so you don't get children working just to get rewards.





Learn math, so you can tell when something just doesn't add up...

Until next time!

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