How A Good Teacher Becomes Great
1. By Making Relationships a Priority
Learning should result in personal and social change. This requires personal relationships as much as it does academic progress, no matter what the data tells you.
2. By Showing True Content Expertise
3. By Striving For Personalization
Differentiation of instruction is an excellent response to learner differences. Different learners have different needs—not just in terms of learning styles, but pace, sequence, and content. In a traditional environment, learners must be brought to the same standards and a similar level of proficiency, which is crude and dishonest. Though full-on personalized learning for every student is still beyond the reach of most educators (and thus students), great teachers strive for personalization of learning experiences.
4. By Always Seeking Meaning
Great teachers seek meaning—in the minds of students, in their content, in the role of the school in a community, in the roles technology should and should not fill in their classroom, and so on. While they honor popular opinion, great teachers independently seek their own meaning for everything they do—and not simply as part of an emotional check-list (Find meaning? Check.), but rather authentically, and with a playful, curious spirit.
5. By Integrating Technology Meaningfully
6. By Collaborating With Other Great Teachers
7. By Measuring Understanding In Diverse Ways
Understanding is complex. It’s almost impossible to explain what it looks like, and two teachers in the same building teaching the same content might disagree passionately about what students should be able to say or do to prove “they get it.” The more diverse the evidence for understanding is that you accept, the more empowered and successful the learning in your classroom—and the more “real” it will all be—less about compliance, more about the students and that critical notion of understanding.
8. By Getting Out of the Students’ Way
The classroom of a great teacher is not filled with their own voice, buzz, or spirit, but that of the learners.
Perhaps the greatest strategy of all, then, is to know when to break the rules, and be willing to move out of the accepted archetype of “good teachers” to give your students what you know they need.