I believe education succeeds best when it is a collaborative effort between teachers and their students towards common goals. In my experience, creative efforts performed in cooperation with others yield results otherwise unattainable by any one member of the team. The success of a collaborative effort is dependent upon mutual trust and respect among the team members.
Theatre students are part of an "educational expedition team"; as their teacher, I am their "guide". On any rigorous trek, everyone is expected to carry in their backpacks their fair share of the whole expedition’s load and perform specific duties that benefit the team as a whole. So, I expect my students to carry their fair share of the effort while I help them find and hone their unique skill-sets for our collaborative educational expedition. I respect my students at the place where they are on their journey. Encouraging a student to explore themselves in order to recognize and value their own individual strengths is their first step to gaining self-respect and self-confidence. Once they know their unique strengths, they can be easily placed in a unique role on the expedition team in which they will perform well and have their confidence bolstered. This is also the best place from which they can improve their weaknesses without undue fears holding them back.
As my students grow, so do I. The classroom provides the opportunity for students to be mentored and grow as professionals and to broaden their perspectives and see things in a different manner. The classroom also provides an opportunity for me as a teacher to learn, to explore myself anew and broaden my own perspectives and see things in a new manner. This is an important aspect of my own professional development.