Good Teaching is Universal

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I recently read an article which reinforced my belief that part of being a good leader ( whether it is at a campus or in a business) is being a good teacher.  Good teaching is not telling; it is ensuring understanding.   Good teaching is universal and revolves around the following 16 concepts:

1. It’s not about you; it is about them.

The best teachers see themselves as guides.  They share what they know, but they also understand that they are not the focus– the students are.

2. Study your students.

A great teacher knows the people they are teaching– their talents, prior experiences, and above all, their needs.

3.  Students will take risks when good teachers create a safe environment.

All learning requires vulnerability.  Learning new things can be uncomfortable and even scary at times– students need to be able to take risks, make mistakes, and correct.  The teacher is responsible for creating a learning environment that is emotionally, intellectually and psychologically safe.

4. Great teacher exude passion as well as purpose.

The difference between good and great is not the extent of content knowledge — it is the genuine passion for teaching.  Students can tell whether you really care or if you are faking it!

5. Student learn when teachers show how much they need to learn.

It is important that students and teachers know present levels of performance in order to determine where to go next.  None of us can expect to get to our destination without having a road map with a designated starting point.

6. Keep it clear if you can’t keep it simple.

One of the critical attributes of a truly great teacher is the ability to break down complex ideas/concepts and make them understandable. 

7. Practice vulnerability without sacrificing credibility.

Sometimes the best answer one can give is ” I don’t know”; this gains a student’s trust and that trust is the basis for a positive relationship.

8. Teach from the heart.

The best teaching is not formulaic; it is personal.  The art of teaching requires the courage to explore one’s sense of identity.  Maybe the jazz musician, Charlie Parker, said it best, “If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.”

9. Repeat the important points.

The first time you say something, it is heard. The second time , it’s recognized but the third time, it is learned.

10.Good teachers ask good questions.

Effective teachers understand that learning is about exploring the unknown and that such exploration begins with questions.  If you want to get to the heart of something, ask “why” five times

11. You are not just passing out information.

Good teaching involves teaching people how to think.  The best teaching leaders help people learn how to think on their own rather than telling them what to think.

12.  Stop talking and start listening.

Effective learning is a 2-way street: it is a dialogue, not a monologue.  If you want to  be a great teacher, you must be comfortable with silence, because it is in those quiet moments, some of the most productive thinking occurs.

13. Learn what to listen for.

Good teachers are not only listening to the words but the feelings and body language behind the words.

14.  Let your students teach each other.

The triangle of learning involves everyone— everyone has a piece of relevant information, which makes everyone a teacher and a learner.

15. Avoid using the same approach for everyone.

Good teachers believe that every student can learn but they also understand that students learn differently and in their own time.

16.  Never stop teaching.

Effective teaching is about the quality of the relationship between the teacher and the student and does not end when the class bell rings.  If the teacher maintains a 9 to 5 attitude, the student will as well.





Rosemary Manges

Rosemary Manges, Program Coordinator for Inclusive Services, has over 39 years of educational experience ranging from the public school classroom, administration, preparing pre-service teachers at the college level to development of policy at TEA. She is in her 10th year at Region 10.

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