August 8, 2016

Taking Inventory: The Qualities of a Good Teacher

Recently, based on the suggestion of my professor, I took inventory of my views and perspectives about teaching. I did this through an online quiz (it's free!).

The Teaching Perspectives Inventory quiz asks questions about learning, motivation, the goals of education, my role as a teacher (as I see it), the nature of the learners I have taught, and the influence of context on my teaching.

It is designed to help teachers better understand the common perspectives of teaching, and how I express them through my own beliefs, intentions and actions. The results of my inventory were not a surprise to me, as I have had many of my students jokingly call me Mom. 

There are 5 Perspectives, but in this blog I will only discuss two. These two were ranked at the top for me and quite evenly scored in terms of belief, intention, and action. This shows me which of the perspectives is grounded in the philosophy of education I believe in, what I intend to accomplish, and what educational actions I undertake in my teaching surroundings.  

What are the Qualities of a Good Teacher?

From my perspective, "good teaching" happens through apprenticeship and nurturing, as described below. 

Good teachers know what their learners can do on their own and where they need guidance and direction; they engage learners within their "zone of development". As learners develop and grow more competent, the teacher’s role changes. As students progress from dependent learners to autonomous workers, teachers offer less direction and give more responsibility. They primarily fulfill the role of facilitator.

Good teachers care about their students and recognize that some have lowered self-confidence as a result of having histories of failure. These teachers will encourage students’ efforts while at the same time inspiring students to do their best by building a climate of caring a trust. They also provide clear expectations and reasonable goals for all learners to achieve. Their assessments of learning consider individual growth as well as overall achievement.

A teacher performs many roles in the classroom. Being able to identify these roles, and move between them is key to success. Jeremy Harmer explains a few essential roles, as summarized here. When assessing my own practice, I think of two things. First, my philosophy of education. When I uphold my philosophy and stay true to myself, I feel integrity in what I am doing. Second, the roles i fulfill in the classroom each day. I think about what I am doing and why I am doing it. I think this has made all the difference for me. 

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