Most dangerous teaching practices come from the assumption that the teacher is the source of knowledge in the class.
This seems like a no-brainer. Obviously, the teacher is there because the teacher knows the subject. But many processes and norms about teaching create some tension with this assumption.
First, most classroom teachers at the secondary level have a number of completed course hours in educational psychology and curriculum. They have the equivalent of two minors, or almost another undergraduate degree in courses on education itself. People who have great field expertise or knowledge in a subject are not called upon to be the regular instructor in courses.
There is a difference at the collegiate level between the professor and the practicioner, between the scholar and the artist. I tend to believe these divisions are better blurred, but the norms of the university suggest a difference that most people accept between studying literature and creating it. Although I think that literary criticism, or any criticism, is creating an art, just not the art it’s talking about.
The professor is in the class not to create, but to show students around what was created, what is being created, and so on. So the assumption that they are the source of knowledge is immediately in trouble if you think about the college course this way.
What about curation? This is my favorite metaphor for teaching college. I see myself as curating an exhibit of works that “go together to prove a point” which is what I think that curation is, as well as planning a concert program, or one-acts, or other artistic endeavors.
Not thinking through these metaphors - or considering the act of teaching as a metaphor - leads to danger, as one starts to think of oneself as both the source of information and the only source of information that the students will have on the subject.
This leads to a thin, rushed performance of the teacher at best. Obsessed with attention and control of time, the teacher believes that any missed attention is missed learning. They worry that not everything will be covered; they get upset when the students are not “where they need to be.”
The danger of the idea that you are “the teacher doing teaching” is that your commitment is to some construct of the material, not to the people right in front of you in the classroom. The commitment of the teacher must be to the students, the ones that you actually have, not the ones you wish you had, or the ones that these extant students would be if they had done better previously - or whatever narrative falls into place here.
To be a good teacher, realize that teaching is impossible when conceived of outside of metaphor. Teaching is always “as something else” because each class is an invitation to study more. Knowledge is fluid and relational; it is not a thing or a commodity to be traded between minds. It is something that is alive, it comes into being through relationships and continues to live when nurtured by memory and imagination as the student moves through life after your class. Teaching is always being an usher, a curator, or some other relationship to knowledge, anything but the source. There is always more to read and study and think about - the class is always an introduction and an invitation to learn more and to pursue new (or better) questions.
Teaching isn’t an art, it’s as an art. It’s as curation, it’s as ushering, it’s as a guide. It’s always “as something.” It is never transmission of knowledge as objects. When we think of it that way, the precious knowledge of our field comes first and students are left behind or worse - they do not feel they are a part of our field, they do not feel welcome and they do not pursue questions in the future. We lose out on the innovations they could provide to the field on questions of their own, or other’s, design.