Friday, June 21, 2013

The Students' Perspective Of What Makes A Good Teacher

This weekend kicks off what promises to be an epic ISTE conference, bringing together about 800 of the sharpest #edtech minds to present to about 13,000 motivated teachers. The only other thing that the brilliant presentations might have in common is that most of their advice would be obsolete in much of the world. 

That's not a knock on the conference. That would be insane.

But it's an interesting thing to think about. Many teachers around the world will be entering classrooms this year without electricity. If there is a blackboard, it is most likely a patch of black paint on a wall. So here's the question:

If you had to design a workshop for teachers with no resources, what would you talk about? 

Differentiation? Collaboration? Integration? Another kind of -tion?

When I've thought about this idea in the past, I've used this book as one of my resources:

Making The Difference by Bill and Ochan Powell has one section in particular I've used quite a bit titled Knowing Ourselves- The Students’ Perspective. It outlines what students have defined as essential qualities of a good teacher. Here's an outline of those qualities:

Students Want Teachers Who...

1) Enjoy teaching the subject
-       Being interested in what you are teaching is contagious... like the flu.
-       This comes from knowing what you are talking about and believing in what you are saying.
-       Specific content is not as important as your enjoyment ( Although I would say that students are perceptive, and false enthusiasm doesn’t work).

2) Enjoy teaching students
-       Make an effort to know your students not just as learners, but as people as well.

3) Make lessons interesting and link them to life outside school
-       Memorization with no connection isn’t as powerful as making a connection. 
-       It’s critical to recognize the signs of boredom and know what produces it.
-       Follow the 10-2 rule. Don't lecture more than 10 minutes without giving students two minutes to process. 

4)Will have a laugh but know how to keep order
- A classroom is a stressful place: not only because learning requires concentration, but throw in that you are with the same people for 8 hours a day, 180 days a year. The students are with their friends and not-friends. They are asked to work together and to compete against each other. Having a sense of humor can do a lot to diffuse tension and bring order back to the classroom.

5) Are fair
-       This is complex. It needs to be defined from the beginning. People are not all the same, so treating people the same isn’t exactly fair. Fair is not giving everyone the same thing. Fair is giving each child what they need to be successful.

6) Are easy for students to talk to

7) Don’t shout
- When a teacher shouts, it takes a child on average 45 minutes to learn again.

8) Don’t compare
- Between this class and another. Between this year and another, between two students, between siblings. It is not motivational. But it can humiliating.

9) Explain things that the students don’t understand without making them feel small.

10) Don’t give up on students

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