How To Be a Good Teacher

This week, I’ve seen a bit extra in the “this is good teaching” or “this is a model teacher” news realm.  It ranges.  Here’s this super exuberant principal who uses his infectious enthusiasm and awesome dance rooms in the classroom, and then there is this new kind of instruction (no ‘please’; only high expectations).

Both seem sort of ridiculous.  For instance, it’s not fair to expect the kind of teaching as shown by that principal since not all personalities work like that.  (Plus, there isn’t evidence that this is “deep” so much as algorithmic learning).  Then the latter, with the crazy “live” coaching in a scripted manner .. I snorted. Who would actually want that for THEIR own child?

I always think it would do society good if everyone took one year to teach.  Their teaching would in no way enhance the lives of their students or help out schools in any way, shape, or form.  It would just be a civic duty of society to allow freshly graduated non-students to finally understand a smidgen of what teachers go through on a daily basis.  THEN, they can humbly go on with their lives and learn to be more generous with their wallets (as taxpaying voters) and lighten up on the criticism (as parents).

In my opinion, two things are in the making of a good teacher: coaching and experience.  I think experience is ultimately how you get to be a good teacher. I don’t even think I realized I wasn’t a good teacher (in fact, that I was a rather POOR teacher) until my 4th year in. (I think most people mistake intelligence, creativity, and score results as “effective teaching” when in reality that’s achievable by most.  We can talk about what true “teaching” is later). Most people quit before then OR (yikes), in some charter worlds, take on higher roles.  What a sad-looking future!  Yet you NEED the experience by starting to accustom yourself to how students act, how to negotiate tactfully, how to balance your work and your life, and how to TEACH…  and those years zoom by before you can return to anything as a teacher!

But experience is nothing without a good coach to shape your experience and help you reflect.  (I think this is hard because I don’t think every coach knows how to coach, either.  COACHES need to be coached.)  But last year, I finally figured out how the teacher-coach dynamic should work in a way that benefits me (the teacher), AND this year, I have an amazing coach.  (Actually I have 3 very adept coaches, but you know how it is, over-coaching can sometimes suck too… BUT I’m lucky that I just get to really delve into different facets of my teaching with 3 different views).  Anyway, my math coach is awesome.  We meet weekly.  I feel like I get stuff done.  I feel like I go in bite-sized steps to plan what to next.  I feel like I’m becoming a better educator and I don’t want to go back to what I used to do.  AND I appreciate my coaching sessions instead of dreading to go to them because I get real feedback and we brainstorm and she’s actually had experience with the same demographics and material.  It’s good.

No expectations to create a sing and dance show.  No requirement to go by a script.  Rather, we come up with what *is* best for kids to help them to become critical thinkers and dynamic self-directed learners… and we just keep trying to coax them in that direction.  THANKS WENDY BATY!

 

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