A few weeks ago I participated in edchat on Twitter. The topic of discussion was teacher evaluations. During the “conversation” I made a shortsighted comment about the lack of value I saw in the formal teaching evaluation process–from an administrative point of view. Several colleagues politely disagreed with my assessment and discussed the positive impact teacher evaluations have had on their schools. Recently, I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on their comments and considering ways that I can create value from a system that has inherent restrictions.
During classroom observations the past few weeks, I have been thinking about characteristics that are shared by great teachers–characteristics I hope I can encourage through the evaluation process. In doing so, I have come to a realization…great teaching is hard work and it is not for the feint at heart. So why is great teaching so difficult? Consider.
- Balance empathy with expectations
- Steadfastly focus on the purpose and objective of what they teach
- Engage their students in discussion
- Provide relevance
- Encourage, reassure and affirm
- Demonstrate creativity and flexibility
- Manage time
- Manage students
- Manage parents
- Laugh, smile, and show their “human side”
- Provide meaningful feedback
- Build rapport and trust (even with students they may struggle to appreciate)
- Work effectively with colleagues
- Advocate for the best interest of students
- Don’t quit–on a lesson, on a day, or on a student
- Appropriately stretch understanding
- Maintain patience
- Teach the required curriculum
- Teach the “hidden” curriculum
- Reflect on constructive criticism
- Criticize constructively
- See potential in all students
- Assess, analyze and modify
- Look for the small successes
- Remain enthusiastic (even when they don’t feel that way)
- Build confidence
- See the big picture
- Remember what is like to be a kid
It’s certainly not an inclusive list, but you get the idea. Great teaching requires a tremendous commitment of time, energy and resources.
Tell me what I have left off the list!