Monday, April 13, 2009

What makes a GREAT teacher?

My reading this weekend included a BlogCatalog discussion facilitated by Tim Wicks - Senior Teacher in a Special School for High School students. The discussion is entitled "what makes great teacher?"

The word "knowledge" or "be smart" makes an appearance in the discussion a few times and I liked Tim's response..

"You say my list has no mention of knowledge. I will add it to the list, .... I am very focused on relationships, and for me knowledge comes in way down the list. Why? So many teachers are brimming with knowledge, yet do not connect with their students."

I would add that sometimes knowledge gets in the way of learning for many teachers. I believe strongly that NZ Early childhood curriculum reflects an emphasis on 'relationships' in education - it is the teacher's job to reflect that in practice. I know that the new New Zealand School Curriculum recently add this in their Key Competencies.

The team at Manaia is currently considering, reflecting, discussing and establishing our new team philosophy, so I was interested to read international ideas about ‘what makes a great teacher’.

I read through Tim Wick's Time to Shine Blog and “15 Critical Traits of the Remarkable Teacher” and wondered what my list might look like and how our final Kindergarten philosophy will read. Tim’s list includes - Be crazy about children, Be fun, honest, Be a learner, Go beyond the boundaries of your classroom, Be a good listener, work with children's strengths, promote self management... Others in the discussion added passion, dedication, adaptability... I liked the suggestion of being a good facilitator.

I would like to make my list more succinct.. here's my list of top five...

1. Be an effective facilitator
2. Be a passionate learner
3. Work with children's strengths
4. Be adaptable
5. Have great expectations of all
6. Show respect
7. Be caring

Ahhhh - its hard to stay on just the top 5.. and already I have shuffled, deleted, added, rearranged...

Quick thinking - off the top of your head - what are the Top 5 teacher characteristics that you value?

Thanks Elaine for your comments - I have reflected further on this topic in:
What makes a great teacher? II


Elaine said...

You are doing some interesting thinking in the north!!

I have found Bruce Hammonds' blog (leading and Learning) a great resource when thinking about teachers, teaching, and what makes great teachers. Do a search for 'Elwin Richardson' and have a look at the post:
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Creative teaching - timeless
Elwyn Richardson - pioneer New Zealand creative teacher 1950-60s. Forget the research and current conformist 'best practice', go back and see what teachers like Elwyn did that we have forgotten about.

TimWicks said...

I still think that if you are 'crazy about your kids' that pretty much all else follows.

I also believe that simply being a facilitator is better than being a good teacher. I have had a 'red hot go' at both and realised awesome outcomes, rich relationships and a more connected community when I took on the role of facilitator.

Love your blog!

Treehouse Dwellers said...

@ Elaine - thanks for sharing those blogs and ideas - I have written further on this in the next blog post.

@ Tim - I'm not sure that if we are crazy about children all else follows, though I do believe all teachers should be crazy about children. I agree that rich relationships are built when we work in partnership as dedicated fun facilitators with children. Have added your blog to my Google Reader Feed.

Linda said...

Catching up on my online reading after the trip away...thought I would have a go at my top features of a great teacher/facilitator in no particular order:
values reciprocal relationships
a curious learner
creative thinker
a listener
nurturing and supportive
Hmm - I thought I could narrow it to 5 but no way.