My favorite teacher was a young energetic man who always came into class enthusiastically. He always seemed prepared with an awesome lesson that he really cared about. He joked with us and never got offended if we teased him. He played a lot of learning games with us, too. By the time I left his class I felt confident that I knew the material even though I didn't care for it in the first place. Now that I am a teacher, I wonder where he got all of his energy every day. Does every day have to be a fun party? Are teachers supposed to "entertain" in order to teach?
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No, every day can't be a "fun party." I think that if you actually talked to that teacher, you would find that he didn't do that kind of fun stuff literally all the time. (I also bet he didn't always feel like he had a lot of energy.) It's just that he did it enough that you felt that it could happen at any time. Also, because he created a good atmosphere, you generally felt good about the class and were happy about it more or less no matter what.
I think that good teachers come in many types. If your personality is like his, it's fairly easy to come across well to students. They then pay more attention to your lessons and give you the benefit of the doubt when you have bad ones. If you have a personality like his, just work on creating the same sort of atmosphere. Also, be aware that, as a teacher, you're likely to pay more attention to the bad stuff that happens, the things that you could have done better. You'll be more likely to think about the student who seemed bored in class rather than the one who was like you and felt great and energized by that teacher.
Hang in there and remember that you can't please all the students all the time or feel like you're 100% "on" every day.
I think the most important trait of a good teacher is the ability to communicate to students that you really care about them as individuals and are willing to help them in any reasonable way you can. If they sense that you are doing your best to help them, they are often willing to try to do their best to meet your expectations.
A former principal of mine contended, "The first and most important thing is to build the relationship with the students. Content and curriculum are secondary - you have to be able to show the kids that you truly and deeply care about them. If they believe that, the rest will come."
You will need to find your own style for establishing and displaying that respect and concern for the students. It may or may not include jokes or learning games (which are a great technique for some educational purposes). But as you find what works for you, show your kids that you are interested in them as individuals as well as learners.
Beyond that, teachers are performers at times. Even on the days when you don't feel energized and enthusiastic, you need to be able to convey to the students that you are glad to be there, you are glad they are there, and that the day will be a worthwhile use of time for everyone!
It's important to determine the learning style of the kids being taught, and tailor the material appropriately. My favorite example was with a first-grader who consistently got simple arithmetic wrong. After a bit of friendly discussion, the teacher realized she was wild about horses. "So, if you have 2 horses, how many shoes do they have all together?" "Eight!" was the excited reply. Within an afternoon, not only had she gotten all her arithmetic right, the teacher had introduced multiplication and division (If you have to buy hay at $2.00 a bale, and you need 5 bales everyday, how much money do you have to spend for a week?)
Even though classes can be large, it's critical to discover what makes each student tick!
I agree to a great extent with post #4, building relationships is absolutely crucial to good teaching. I don't think I understood that when I first taught, and I was a bit less effective because I (to some extent intentionally) came across as a bit distant. I was young, and wanted to be careful not to be seen as a friend. But I discovered over time that forming relationships with students, whatever the age group or achievement level, is indispensible. However, I think content does matter, a great deal more than many education specialists would have us believe. As a teacher and a history PhD student, I think a major problem in history classrooms is the fact that many teachers just have very little idea of the skills that are essential to, and can be learned from, studying history. I have also known more than a few teachers who were pretty ignorant of modern scholarship in history, and simply taught what they learned in high school, which could lead to the perpetuation of some pretty pernicious mythologies.
What a great discussion. In my opinion, a great teacher knows that the learning process of students differ in great ways. The more a teacher knows this, the better rapport that he or she will have with students. Students will feel understood. Students will have a feeling that the teacher knows the challenges of learning. Also in this process, students will begin to understand the subject matter, because the teacher will tailor make the lessons to help students.
Cares about students.
Knows how people learn (in the full diversity that implies).
Motivates groups & individuals through respect & passion.
Loves & knows their subject matter.
Keeps learning along with students: the subject is the center of attention, not the teacher (or the students).
Organizes, prioritizes, & keeps things moving so nobody (teacher or student) burns out.
Supports & listens to colleagues; leads by example, shares, & collaborates.
Has a good time every day.
As a student, few things make some of my teachers stnad out thn the others. I believe, that the most important persoanilty is the ability to understand each students ups and downs in the particular subject, so enough care can be given to the individuals. Another thing which is quite vital, is the ability to bring a chapter into life. Most chapters in the text books are quite boring, and until and unless the teacher does something to make it more interesting, the chapter can't be understood.
Regarding the question: Does every day have to be a fun party? Are teachers supposed to "entertain" in order to teach?
Everyday doesn't need to be a fun party, but it should be a wonderful day, a on-of-its-kind. Are teachers supposed to entertain? No, as a lot of entertainment means less of learning.
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