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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ruminations on really good teachers.

Had a guy contact me through the interwebs about teaching.  From time to time I get questions like "How on earth do you manage to do what you do without killing anyone", or "What on earth possesed you to be a TEACHER?!", and probably the most common, just the plain old "WHY?!".  Good questions, which I really don't have a great answer to, other than I love doing what I do. 

Being a teacher is incredibly demanding. Not necessarily physically- although I vividly remember my first year teaching and being physically more tired after a day teaching than I was after spending a 12 hr day building a brick retaining wall by hand in near 100 degree temps.  Teaching demands near 100% attention 100% of the time.  Teaching demands that you are ready, willing, and able to do what is asked of you not just by the students, but by their parents, your administrators, the community, the state, and the federal government. 

I still consider myself a total and utter noob at the teaching game, but I feel like I'm starting to figure some things out.  I work with an incredible group of people, all of them having great things to share / show / teach me about being a better teacher.  Over the last couple of years I have been starting to notice things that I feel make a person a "good" teacher.  I'm not going to try and define exactly what that means.  I'm not going to try and classify teachers into 27 different categories- I'll leave that up to the state and their "merit pay" scale. 

Lately, I've been jotting these things down and have made a bit of a list of what I feel makes a person a good teacher.  This list is by no means finished or should it be considered exactly what you should do to be the perfect teacher.  That's part of teaching- the only constant is that things change.  Without further ado, here's my list.

A good teacher:

Is prepared.
Knows and ENJOYS their subject.
Understands and can relate to their students and can teach on their level.
Is willing and able to better themselves.
Can work well with others,considering all side of a situation.
Always looking for ways to make things better, IF needed.
Lives by the KISS philosophy (Keep It Simple, Silly).
Is excited about what they do.
Is happy.
Can smile.
Will change things when its obviously not working.
Is flexible in day to day plans.
Is someone people in the community can look up to.
Is organized.
Is positive.
Is patient.

So there you have it.  A lot of those items may not seem to make much sense, and I could go into a lot of detail on each one of them.  For example, the smile thing-  I've heard from various different places that a teacher shouldn't smile at students until after Christmas or some such thing.  If you can't smile at your students, it might be time to rethink things a bit.  Some of those things may not seem to have anything to do with teaching, but students can tell if you are happy or not, or if you like what you are doing, and it affects how they percieve your class.  Do I claim to be able to do all of these things?  Absolutely not. 

That's my 2 cents on the subject, so take it for what its worth.  Thanks to all of my colleagues and friends both at home, school, and around the world for their great examples and words of wisdom as they continue to hopefully help me become a "good" teacher.

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