The Teachers We Want
Q. I don't need a Ph.D. with 30
years of experience and 14 awards from national teaching associations for my
child. I just want a good teacher who'll make him love learning and feel good
about himself. Is that so much to ask?
You're talking about the heart of a master
teacher - a valuable thing indeed.
Under No Child Left Behind, a lot of
attention is being given to defining a qualified teacher. Every think tank,
every regulatory agency, every big education bureaucracy has its list of traits
and credentials that are exemplary in a teacher.
But there are a few things that we parents
and taxpayers want, too.
Here's a quote that points up the futility
of having the smartest person in the world trying to teach without a heart for
"A teacher who is attempting to teach,
without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn, is hammering on a cold
iron." (Horace Mann, educational reformer, 1796-1859)
Assuming that all teachers have at least a
basic level of training, and aren't suffering from mental or physical illness
that prevents them from carrying out their duties, what is it that parents and
taxpayers want from our teachers?
Here are some excellent ideas from Elaine
K. McEwan, author of more than 25 books on parenting, teaching and school
teachers get students off to the right start from the first day of class. They
have clear rules and consequences, use good time management, minimize
distractions and pay a lot of attention to planning and housekeeping.
have a lot of structure, are clearly communicated, and students are given
enough time and practice to succeed. Feedback and reviews are regular.
activities have a steady flow and momentum, with a minimum of down time,
flipflops, outside stimuli and other distractions.
teachers believe in each student, and treat them equitably, affirmatively and
with kindness and respect.
Ms. McEwan lists some teachers we DON'T want, too:
"The Space Cadet"
"The Control Freak"
"The First to Any Fad"
"The Boring, Boring,
"The Marine Drill
"The Social Worker"
. . . and many more.
Be thankful when you get the kind of effective, organized,
kind teacher that Ms. McEwan described . . . and beware when you don't.
Be sure to read the www.ShowandTellforParents.com
articles under "Parental Involvement: Working With Teachers," for more on what
to do if your child gets one of "those" teachers.
Homework: To recognize what you want - and
don't want - in a teacher, consult the excellent book, Ten Traits of Highly Successful Schools by Elaine K. McEwan, Harold
Shaw Publishers, 1999.