By Courtney Perez, a member of the SkillCorps® India October 2018 team
The first time I heard this concept of backseat teaching was in New York, at SkillCorps training with the Global Autism Project. The idea is you are coaching the teacher without directly working with the student. This differs greatly from the style of teaching and training that I am used to which is very hands in with the students. When I heard of this style I thought, “No problem I can adapt my style to anything because I’m amazing and training is my specialty”.
Although I still maintain that I am amazing, I have come to realize that backseat teaching is not as easy as I anticipated. For someone who is used to jumping in, sitting and explaining is very difficult. I found myself stepping in at the beginning. My teacher would gracefully step in front of me or talk over me to the student. I learned fast to wait until I was asked a question to step in regarding a student. Even when I did step in to model, I only did it one time and then stepped back. At first this all really bothered me. I felt very unproductive and like I was wasting my time.
One day I presented an idea to create sensory bottles for the students. The teacher expanded in the idea and made it a group activity. I suddenly understood how backseat teaching works and by sitting back we are allowing room for the person we are training to absorb information and process it in their own way. This allows the teacher to also expand the idea and create success in their classroom.
As it turns out, India has made me more amazing than I originally was and ever thought I could be.