There are teachers and then there are …. teachers? That’s what they call them. To be honest, I’ve sit in many classes and there are some who need that title taken away. Now do not get me wrong. They could be very nice people, but teaching was NOT their calling. When you sit in a class and you are fighting to keep your eyes open, there might be a problem with the class. I got very frustrated over the years listening to people teaching me that could not communicate anything clearly. I rarely retained anything from my time spent with them. In fact, I dreaded those classes. That made the really good teachers stand out.
Characteristics of Effective Teaching
What made those teachers great? They knew who their students were. A good teacher feels out their students and can adapt their teaching to reach those sitting in their class. The link Characteristics of Effective Teachers shares some great notes on what makes up a great teacher. Some noted characteristics of an effective teacher are:
· Clearly explains things
· Organized and well-prepared
· Variety of strategies
· Adapts to individual learning styles
· Enthusiastic of subject
· Interested in students
· Relates to students
· Enjoys teaching
· Sense of humor
· Encourages class discussion
From my personal experience a great teacher is also one that can admit that they don’t know an answer and is willing to look for it. When I’ve taught a class, I’ve noticed that I get more respect from the students (adults) when I can admit that I’m stumped and will defer to someone in the class if they knew the answer. In my opinion a teacher learns with the students.
A teacher also needs to be able to read facial expressions on students. Though each person is unique and have their own way of communicating, there are very common traits that you can use to help identify potential confusion. I’ve gotten better at watching facial expressions so that I can tell when someone doesn’t quite understand what I’m saying or disagrees with what I’m saying. That really helps when making sure that the students are all on the same page and no one leaves the classroom confused or misinterpreting what was discussed. Some teachers just assume that since everything was covered in the time that they had that everything is fine. I’ve learned a long time ago that it works better for the instructor if they are willing to be flexible on their lesson plans and adaptive to each student.
Many classes, whether children or adult, suffer from teachers who will not realize that every student is different and unique and adapt their teaching to it. How many students have been shoved aside, flunked, or labeled incorrectly because they did not fit into the mold that traditional educational system have created and forced students in? Many have had opportunities to grow moved right past them because they learned things a little bit different. Albert Einstein was one example of someone who had just a few brain cells working in his favor, but most teachers would have said that they were sound asleep. He just was a very unique person who needed unique teaching. Most teachers are not flexible in their teaching styles. That is not to slam the teaching profession. Most humans are not flexible in our day to day lives and that spills over into our chosen professions. We need to look beyond our own ways and see how the others around us function and inter-relate. That is when someone good becomes someone great whether it is teaching, leading a country, or rescuing someone in a burning building.
I enjoy teaching and that makes a difference. I’ve had teachers that you could tell were just there to collect a paycheck. If you learned anything or not, it did not matter to them. They are not fooling anyone. Teaching should be a passion and that passion should flow forth to those being taught.
Teachers in Your Past
How would you say most of the teachers in your life have influenced you?
- Not at all
Teaching is a very honorable calling but it also carries with it a heavy burden. Teachers are passing on their knowledge and enthusiasm and if it is done incorrectly they are the ones responsible. Teachers make lasting impressions. Ask anyone about their most influential teacher and it will more than likely be someone who looked at them as someone and went out of their way to make sure that that student left their instruction with more than a grade. They left with tools that they were to use decades later.
I thank several teachers that even today when I’m trying to do something or help my own children with their work, thoughts of them rise to the forefront of my brain and I can remember vividly their instructions. Thank you, Mrs. Palmer, for teaching me that I can do anything if I really try even drawing. Thank you, Mrs. Whitestone, for showing me that grammar wasn’t so boring. Thank you, Mr. Ivy, for preparing me for those college courses in which I was expected to understand the subject not just regurgitate it. Thank you, Alfreda, for showing me that I didn’t know it all and that even as an adult I can still learn. Thank you, Pam, for bringing the written Word to life before my eyes. I began to read it all with a different soul. You all changed my life. Thank you to all the teachers out there that step out of the molds and show us all that there is still passion in this world that is true, pure, and powerful.
Gems I’ve Found
Here are some more sites I’ve found that you might find interesting. I’ll be updating this as I find new gems to share.