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Teachers & Teaching        < Previous        Next >

 

 

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 teaching:

 

"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 administration:

 

n    Effective 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.

 

n    Lessons have a lot of structure, are clearly communicated, and students are given enough time and practice to succeed. Feedback and reviews are regular.

 

n    Classroom activities have a steady flow and momentum, with a minimum of down time, flipflops, outside stimuli and other distractions.

 

n    These 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, Boring"

 

"The Bigot"

 

"The Burnt-Out-at-35"

 

"The Marine Drill Instructor"

 

"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.

 

By Susan Darst Williams www.ShowandTellforParents.com Teachers 06 2008

 

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