Teach like a Barber

“What can I do for you today?”, he often asks. In response I state my preferred hair style.

Immediately the barber commences his work; combing, cutting, trimming, shaving and brushing. During the course of activity conversation takes place. While the apron catches shed growth, I observe other customers waiting on benches or sitting in allocated chairs receiving their haircut. Approximately fifteen minutes passes and at completion a mirror is presented. It’s monivoured to reflect the hairdressers work on all sides.

Satisfied I stand and make payment before going on my merry way.

This is usually how the entire routine plays. Only on this particular day, my son was having his hair cut. For the first time, I realised that educators can learn a lot from the process of hairdressing.

Preferred Style

Firstly, within the context of a barber store, customers will arrive with varying needs and preferred styles. In like manner the students of our classroom will have different learning styles and needs.

Hairdressers don’t provide the same haircut to every individual. They will complete the task as directed by their client. Barbers are well versed on fashion and have a repertoire of styles they can reproduce with expertise. Ultimately; however, they are governed by the needs, wants, likes and preferences of their costumer.

Teachers can’t clone content from year to year nor deliver the same material to every student. They must be at the cutting edge of their profession. Educators must be versed on the latest trends in education and be aware of what works best for different students.

Tools of the Trade

With fluidity the barber transitions from one tool to the next. Skillfully using scissors and comb, the hairdresser achieves the desired outcome. Quickly the tools are changed and the barber will use clippers to make needed adjustments. Within a snap, the blade is changed to a different attachment to create a different look and length.

Similarly, teachers must move from one tool to the next while ensuring the flow maintains lesson momentum. YouTube, media extracts, anchor charts, posters, artifacts and textbooks are all credible resources. They need to be used effectively with curriculum to complement investigations and produce results.

Customers Matter

While there may be many customers in the barber shop, he remains focused on one. Pleasant conversation makes the client know they are valued and understood. My son sat beautifully for the duration of the haircut because he knows there’s the possibility of earning a lollipop from the glass jar next to the register.

At times, the demands of teaching can result in teachers focusing on the group rather than individual students. Teachers must work toward developing connection with their students through deliberate and intentional conversation.

In addition, extrinsic and intrinsic rewards need to be carefully considered. They can create powerful means of motivation and help to develop positive attitude while establishing culture.

Evidence Based

The black apron and the tiled floor for that matter provide evidence of change. At the end of the work day various hair styles have been produced. Collectively the offcuts provide a clear indication of task completion.

Teachers need to employ appropriate methodologies to collect data. Information will provide insite into changes that have taken place in student learning. Furthermore, records of achievement, portfolios of work and incidental anecdotes will provide valuable methods to validate student growth.


The hairdressing experience concludes with a mirror being used to show the barbers work. The reflection provides a true perspective of results.

In like manner, teachers must use reflective tools to provide feedback to students. The feedback will help the student see value in the learning opportunity. Feedback will provide teaching staff with information that will help identify aspects of the lesson that worked well while also helping to diagnose aspects needing to be improved.

Teachers like barbers must be aware of style and what’s in fashion. They must also use the tools of their trade with skill and purpose. Both trades need to focus on the individual while providing exceptional care and support to the group. The two occupations use evidence based methodologies. Feedback is vitally important within both fields of employment.

It’s a do or dye (die) industry.


Popular posts from this blog

Curriculum Theory By Ralph Tyler and it's implication for 21st Century Learning

Sphero or Ozobot? Ozobot or Sphero?

Drones in Australian Curriculum