The Sincerest Form of Flattery

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Allison Behne

March 29, 2019
Issue: 
#559

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
—Charles Caleb Colton

I absolutely love this picture. It’s of my uncle Jim, a high school girls’ basketball coach, and his granddaughter Georgia. This particular night was Georgia’s fourth birthday, and as honorary team captain, she got to help her “papa” coach. She took this very seriously, watching and copying his every move. When he sat, she sat. When he yelled, she yelled. She intently looked to him for cues about what to do next. It was heartwarming to see her following his example, wanting to be just like him.

A great model can have a tremendous influence on behavior. The same is true in our classrooms.

  • The books we bless soon have a lengthy waitlist.
  • Our enthusiasm for a new science unit is contagious, and students search for more information and bring it in to share.
  • The lessons we demonstrate begin to be internalized and used independently.

Modeling provides an example that learners need to be successful. When a behavior, skill, strategy, or concept make sense logically and visually, the learner can more easily enter in and apply the new learning. We see it in how Georgia copycats her papa, and we can use it across all disciplines in our classrooms. Explicit instruction followed by deliberate modeling lays the groundwork for student practice and success. When we are deliberate in our visual, auditory, and kinesthetic modeling with students, we explicitly teach and engage them in a new idea or behavior. We aren’t looking for imitation as a form of flattery, but we are hoping to ignite a lifelong love of learning, persistence, and hard work.

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