Monday, August 09, 2010

Every teacher started their career wanting to be a great teacher. Sometimes, it works out; other times unfortunately, the stress of the job, the politics of the position, less than supportive adminstrators/colleagues, all those factors can taint even the purest soul in education.

A great article on cuts to the core of what it takes to be a great teacher. Opinion: What Makes a Great Teacher lists the top traits students feel it takes to be a great teacher.

The list seems obvious:
-Know us personally, our interests and strengths -Let us know who they are as individuals -Smile at us -Encourage us to participate in school activities -Spend time beyond class time to help us be successful in their class -Give us descriptive feedback on assignments -Tell us why -Share how what we learn is connected to real life -Apologize when they make mistakes -Give meaningful work -Are energetic, enthusiastic and enjoy their job

One of my favorite books is Todd Whitaker's What Great Teachers Do Differently . I revisit this book each fall before school begins and keep it on my desk as a daily reminder throughout the year. (See a previous blog post about the book) When I saw this list on, I was anxious to compare the student list to Whitaker's. It was no surprise to me to find many similarities between what students want from us as their teachers, and what Whitaker suggests makes us great.

In a nutshell, both lists want teachers who love their job, care about their students, and take their job seriously, giving work that is meaningful, relevant and appropriate, and planning intentionally to help students experience success with that work.

It was no surprise to me that the two lists have much overlap. Simple enough strategies, simple enough ideas.... But both the article and the book serve as a boost reminder as the new school year approaches. Kids will be kids, but deep inside, all they want is us to love and respect them, every day, no matter what. Then, and only then, will they give 100% in our classrooms.

1 comment:

Jac said...

I agree with what you said about the list being simple enough strategies and simple enough ideas. However, as a teacher who tries very hard to embody as many of those traits as I can as often as I can, I know for a fact it is easier said than done to maintain a positive attitude, to be excited to be there, to put in extra time, etc. I fear very much that, the longer I teach, the less I will do those things and simply take the easier route of basically phoning in the job. I am starting my 8th year in about a week and a half and don't think I have lost those traits (which I think can be summarized as having a passion for the job and a genuine care and liking for your students) but I will always guard against it.