Friday, August 15, 2014

What Makes a Great Teacher?

The July 31, 2014, edition of Parade had an article that I found very interesting: How to Build a Better Teacher, by Elizabeth Green.


The article talks about the myths and perceptions of what makes a great teacher. Are they natural born? Can it be learned?

The article gives five examples, taken from educational research that shows what sets apart a great teacher from a mediocre or bad one. 

1.  They can right a wrong: "The best teachers put themselves in their students’ shoes—and grapple  with how they arrived at the wrong answer in order to set them right."

2.  They never say Shhh!": "The best teachers eradicate ambiguity and respond to misbehavior with specificity, describing the desired behavior rather than the problem. “We’re following along in our books,” the teacher might say, gently reminding the distracted students to get back to work."

3.  They encourage deeper thinking: You will hear a lot of "why" or "explain how" type questions in these classrooms.

4.  They "cold call" - with purpose: "The goal is to ­extract the maximum possible mileage from each question. By ­introducing the possibility that anyone can be asked to speak at any time, teacher ­decrease the chances their students will tune out."

5.  They show more than they tell: "The teacher needs to be specific, showing students what detailed thinking looks like by illuminating the invisible mental steps that go into it."


As I read I couldn't help but compare myself and see my successes and shortcomings. This is a great article to think about as you start off a new school year. How do you measure up? What are you doing right? What can you improve to make this your most successful year yet?



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