Forget Lawnmower Parents–I Was a Lawnmower Teacher

In recent years, the term “lawnmower parent” has gained popularity as a way to describe parents who attempt to clear away every obstacle their child might encounter, whether it be in school or social situations. However, just as we’re starting to understand this phenomenon among parents, it’s important to acknowledge that, at times, educators can also adopt behaviors that are eerily similar.

As a teacher myself, I must admit to being guilty of overprotecting students from challenges in order to make their academic experiences smoother and less frustrating. After careful reflection, I have realized that I was a lawnmower teacher.

The Turning Point

The revelation came after the following incident: Like many educators, I found myself planning every minute of my students’ days with incredible precision. One day, I had organized a timed activity for each group in the class. While the students were immersed in the tasks at hand, it was clear that something wasn’t quite right.

Instead of focusing on their work, students were frequently calling me over for help and guidance. But instead of encouraging them to figure out solutions on their own, or even ask their peers for assistance, I found myself offering too much support—providing answers and easing every small struggle they encountered. It finally dawned on me that my excessive care was stunting their growth.

Easing Off the Gas

Recognizing this problem was just the first step—I knew it was time for a change in my approach to teaching. While I couldn’t simply abandon my students and let them flounder entirely, there had to be a middle ground where they could become more independent and self-reliant learners.

Firstly, I decided to incorporate more inquiry-led activities requiring critical thinking and collaboration amongst peers. This meant stepping back from offering constant assistance and instead providing “guiding questions” when needed. It was fascinating to see the students’ creativity come to life, as they engaged in real problem-solving situations without me hovering over them.

Secondly, I aimed to foster an environment where students could embrace their unique strengths and learn from failure. By celebrating growth rather than just success, children became more open and resilient when faced with obstacles or setbacks. And instead of those perfectly polished days filled with easy victories, our classroom became a lively hub of active learning and experimentation.

The Impact on Students

As a lawnmower teacher turned guide on the side, I’ve noticed a profound change in my students. They’re more autonomous and confident in navigating challenges they encounter. They’ve learned that setbacks are opportunities for growth and innovation, and are more willing to seek help from their peers than solely relying on me.

Most importantly, this shift has taught them essential life skills that extend beyond the classroom walls. Learning to be self-sufficient, embracing failure as part of the learning process, and relying on collaboration are crucial tools for personal growth and success in today’s world.

In Conclusion

As educators, the temptation to be lawnmower teachers can be strong; we want nothing but the best for our students. But true growth comes from facing challenges head-on and embracing the messy learning process that follows. Fostering independence and resilience in our students is far more rewarding than handing them a neatly manicured path to follow.

Choose your Reaction!