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December 16, 2011

A Few More Final Traits Of A Master Teacher

I just attended an faculty inservice on using iPads in the classroom. I love technology, and it is easy to be dazzled by a device as transparent, intuitive and easy to use as the iPad, but, as cool as iPads are, and yes, I'd love to have one, there's just nothing like the...

... face to face interaction of the classroom.

So here are a few more features of a truly memorable teacher - no matter what the technology.

1. Community involvement
I encourage my students to know what is going on in their communities. I urge them to read a local paper - and I tell them that I write for my local daily newspaper. Sometimes I give them an assignment to write a letter to the editor on an issue that matters to them. It's fun for them and they learn a lot about themselves, the issue and other people's responses to their statements.

2. Organization
One-on-one tutoring is easy compared to leading a classroom of students in a single direction. Teachers must be able to inspire, encourage and sometimes just connect with students who may be very different from themselves. Good organization can save you from all kinds of disasters. Always have a plan B. As much as I love technology, it tends to fail when I need it most.

3. Vision
Teaching encompasses far more than passing information from teachers to students. I always feel that each class is on a journey, with its own unique personality and identity. A large number of my students acquire nicknames in my classes (that they keep). We as teachers need to have a clear vision, not only of where we are and what we need now, but where we are going and to what ends.

4. Context
Every subject has a context, and teachers are responsible for providing it to their students. Every student, and every teacher, brings their life experience with them as they enter the classroom. And every one of us will go to a different place after every class session. And who knows where we would all be a year or two or five, from now?
We share a context for now, but the larger context is made by each one of us.

5. Mission
In some of my classes, we have a session or two on writing a mission statement. I call it a resume' in one sentence. There are many mission statement websites out there with details on what a mission statement should look like. Keep it short, and easy to memorize.

6. Enthusiasm
Excellent teachers never lose enthusiasm for their profession. Students feel and respond to this energy, and teachers who project it are much more successful than those who do not.

If the teacher gives off the vibe that he or she does not want to be there, the students will pick up and probably amplify it.

I've taught in all kinds of different settings, and faced all kinds of unlikely situations. I'd love to do some short term master teacher sessions. Let me know if your school could use some stories and encouragement from us.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing , constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


About the author of this entry:

Morf has a BA from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and an MAT (Master's in Teaching English) from the University of Washington (Seattle). You can contact him at mmorf@mail.com.

Posted by mmorf at December 16, 2011 09:11 PM


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