What Extraordinary Teachers Do Best
I hope you have all experienced an extraordinary teacher. If you have, I doubt that you remember much of what they taught you intellectually. What stays with you forever, is how they made you feel. Extraordinary teachers make school about connecting with the children in their care. This value come before test scores. The funny thing is, when they prioritize creating respectful relationships, these teachers get something amazing in return: children who cooperate, work hard, and best of all…love to learn.
Good Teachers are well organized, on task, and manage functional classrooms. A Great Teacher can empower children, which is a lasting gift.
Great Teachers Give
Independence and Autonomy
Giving children choices and freedom in their learning may seem scary. Great Teachers believe that when a child controls their learning, they become more motivated, engaged and satisfied. Children learn how they learn best, embrace mistakes, care about their topic, and are more likely to be creative.
Along with freedom comes responsibility. A Great Teacher also provides boundaries and fairness.
Learn From the Child
Giving children permission to be themselves is a way of saying that they are whole and beautiful. Great Teachers observe, ask questions and gratefully serve every child where they are. The child will teach them what they need.
Great Teachers can bend and adapt their teaching methods to meet every child’s special needs.
Giving all children a reflection of their personal strengths may open doors they didn’t know were there. Great Teachers not only notice, but pull children aside to let them know they have specific and real gifts that they could develop further. Mentoring at an early age can change a child’s self-perception and their life’s direction.
Giving children clear and exact expectations, and explaining reasons for rules and changes is comforting and respectful. Criticize in private, and encourage in public. Immediate and specific feedback is a helpful ingredient for learning, rather than general or insincere praise.
Great Teachers model curiosity, compassion, and a joy of learning hard things.
Great teachers don’t forget the other half of communication, which is listening. They value and appreciate opinions, suggestions and feedback of the students and parents that they serve. They also want to know a child’s hopes and goals and think of ways to help them prepare.
Make It Matter To Them
Giving children meaningful goals helps them learn what is important to them and why. Great Teachers can help children feel part of something bigger, and see their education as a means to a better life and world.
Guess What Our Teachers Need?
Teachers have so much to get done, but does this list sound difficult or too time consuming? I don’t think so at all. The problem is that this list of interpersonal qualities and skills can not be taught from a book, a class, or a personal development day. That is my point.
Teachers don’t need more classes or testing to become Great Teachers. They need Greatness to be modeled! They need a principal, a supervisor, or a co-teacher that makes them feel important and respected. An educator that allows them to make decisions and mistakes, values them for who they already are, loves learning about their craft, reflects back their talent and goals, gives clear and specific feedback, communicates expectations, listens to their concerns and ideas, and helps them feel part of something important.
Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking?
What if all people in influential roles followed the lead of Extraordinary Teachers? What if your boss let you make more of your own decisions? Or what if your partner clearly communicated every day and listened to you? What if your doctor saw more than your test scores when she walked in? What if all children received the message from adults that they are whole and beautiful just the way they are? Just imagine the extraordinary difference it could make in how we feel…
Great Teachers (bosses, spouses, doctors, parents) have their antennae up, and can say just the right thing at the right time. When you walk into a classroom (workplace, hospital or home) you feel it. There is a culture of respect and appreciation and learning all around. You know immediately that you are in the presence of an Extraordinary Person by how they make you feel.
So you see, as it turns out, this list is about how our Best Teachers connect to students before teaching subjects. We learn how to treat others from teachers like that, and that lesson changes lives. Teaching is about so much more than testing.