Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Good Teacher...or a Great Teacher?

This morning in Intro to Education, I asked my students to think about a "good teacher." Perhaps try to visualize a particular teacher you've had. What word would you use to describe her/him?

I turned to the board and asked them to just shout out their descriptors in a lightning round, and I scribbled like mad to keep up. In less than two minutes, this is what we had developed:

A pretty powerful list! I'm trying to imagine a teacher that might have all of these characteristics all at the same time.

That wouldn't be a "good teacher."

That would be a GREAT teacher.

This has me thinking: should we aspire to be good? Or should we aspire to be great? The idea of being a "great teacher" is a little daunting...but maybe this is something to strive for...

In my lesson, I went on to introduce the idea of dispositions for teaching. Dispositions--as I noted to my students--are characteristics or attributes of the teacher that make them more effective. In fact, many of the characteristics of "good teachers" the students listed above were on my list--caring, passionate, genuine, relational, etc. I included others, such as flexible, professional, creative, empathetic, compassionate, and the like.

The question is...are good teachers born? Or made? I even posed this question to the class.

There were a few seconds of thoughtful silence before one young man spoke up: "It isn't an either-or. Good teachers are born with traits that might make them effective, but they also keep developing those characteristics over time."


So, my challenge to you, teacher: Be a "good teacher." Be mindful of your dispositions for teaching. Continue learning and developing. Strive for greatness!

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