As I’ve written before, a teacher’s first and foremost job is to motivate students to learn. Teachers need to look in the mirror each morning and say, “I am a motivator. I find ways to inspire every child in my class to want to learn.” I hope I don’t offend too many here, but almost anyone can stand in front of a class in a typical school setting and spew forth knowledge, assign homework, administer tests, and calculate grades. A computer could do many of those tasks, and a class monitor can manage discipline.
No, a teacher does more than “give them the opportunity to learn if they want to.” A teacher inspires. There is a wealth of good ideas regarding how teachers inspire kids, but I found a few recent blogs that add to the discussion. Eric MacKnight gives four ways to inspire students:
- Be passionate yourself and share your passion with your students.
- Be able to explain the age-old question, “why do we need to learn this?”
- Teach for understanding.
- Be supportive, kind, and open.
Instructional coach David Ginsburg writes about a transformational moment he had in his work with disadvantaged students. He developed the acronym HEART (hope, effort, attitude, resourcefulness, and teamwork) to help his students see a path to success. To his surprise he found that, in his words, “hope for disadvantaged black kids would never come from a privileged white guy preaching optimism.” He realized that his task was to create a classroom where his actions, more so than his words, helped students make connections between what they believed and did and the results they got.
What do you think? Share with us what qualities make for a great teacher. Some comments I’ve received in my travels include:
- I think teachers who are open and understanding have the most success at reaching students.
- My students enjoy hearing about my experiences and sharing their own. I don’t think that is a digression from teaching as long as I don’t overdo it.
- Teachers have to care for kids, really love them, and want to know them personally.
- Students will do anything for you if you make a personal connection with them.