How to be an amazing teacher

It is not rocket science... in fact, it's not science at all.

You want the key?

Inspire your students.

It's not what you know.

It's about what they're going to get the chance to know.

It's not whether or not you've got down pat the back, the front, sideways and the inside out of the subject you have to teach.

It's not whether or not you have adequately learned the right methodology to pass on your knowledge, nor is it most especially, whether or not you can describe the exact brain processes regarding the acquisition of knowledge.

Interesting, makes for great debate in the staff room or on blogs, but sincerely, what a waste of time.

Do you motivate your learners?

Do they ache to know what you know?

Do they come to class and at the start the lesson say "Miss, I thought about what you said yesterday, and I don't agree with you."

Do they raise their hands and say "Mr John, I believe that it can't work that way because..."

Do they challenge you to think about what you're sharing with them?

Do they say "Sir, I told my friend, Sue, all about what you said about blah and blah and we really agree: we looked it up on youtube last night and we watched a video from Harvard - we found out that..."

Do they talk about what they learned with each other?

Do they explore?

Do they take on an ownership of your words, your thoughts, your ideas, your learning and push these into new directions? Like the way you did with your own favorite teacher when you were a student?

Are you exciting a passion for learning in your students?

Do that and you'll be the most amazing teacher in their lives.


p.s. This was tweeted today by Mary Thumball and I just had to add it:
A teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but leads you to the threshold of your mind -Kahlil Gibran

8 Responses to “How to be an amazing teacher”

  • Nick Jaworski says:
    October 18, 2009

    Love the post Karenne. Is this perhaps a reaction to the Six Things discussion :)?

    My goal as a teacher is always to make my students think, to engage them, and to inspire.

    I don't think this is an easy task though. I've been having a related discussion with Darren on this and I think training, knowledge, and experience are very important if you want to be a good teacher. A teacher can walk into a class and be motivated and enthusiastic, yet the students still fail to learn or the teacher fails to inspire. There is more to being a teacher than just desire.

    I think sometimes there is this dream that a great teacher is anybody who really wants to be one in their hearts. If that were the case there wouldn't be so much burn out among older teachers who have lost the spirit after struggling for years to inspire uninterested students. Is the onus entirely on the teacher? I think not. Inspiration is not an easy thing to create and a lot more than the teacher's desire to do so goes into the act of making it a reality.

    October 18, 2009

    Hi Nick,

    Um... yup, sort of has to do with the SixThings discussion - as much as I really do respect the ideas and contributions going on over there... some pretty seriously weighted knowledge...

    at the end of the day, sometimes all these discussions about whether or not we should use technology, whether or not MI is valid 'scientifically' - is suggestopedia a good idea.. it all just makes me want to scream...


    It just so really is not about if the teacher walks into her class all motivated and enthusiastic but whether or not her students walk out motivated and enthusiastic.

    When I think back to my most amazing teachers (some of whom are in amongst that great talk on Lindsay's blog) it was not who they were, it was not what they "knew" - - I had no idea of their own educational histories... it was always about how much they made me personally want to do my best, be my best. How much they inspired to learn.

    So if I can inspire that in my own students then I will have done my job.

  • Nick Jaworski says:
    October 19, 2009

    Agreed :)

  • Unknown says:
    October 19, 2009

    Hi Karenne, after reading your last comment I thought I'd mosey on down here too. Glad that the discussion prompted this, it's a worthwhile subject. I think you're right about motivation and interest/engagement being key characteristics of great teachers.

    Maybe we could say that those other things about "what you know" and "knowledge" are, in part, necessary for teachers but certainly not sufficient. That X factor of a good teacher is quite hard to pin down.

    One requisite I think people need to "excite a passion for learning" in their students is to have one themselves. Enthusiasm is such a contagious thing.

  • Unknown says:
    October 20, 2009

    Excellent!You have said it so succinctly and precisely!
    I just had a French lesson (they offer these free ones here, so I really wasn't expecting too much - perhaps more like self guided tutorial)and I was blown away. Celine - the teacher - was so enthusiastic, so patient and a wonderful person to inspire to want to learn. She worked so well with all the different levels in the group and made us all feel like stars!
    That is how I try to be when in a classroom and I think that is what you have touched on so eloquently - Thank you!
    Shonah :-)

    October 20, 2009

    Thanks Shonah

    I know, just from all your tweets on twitter that you are a super teacher - your passion and energy shine through in everything you do and I'd bet my last dollar your students feel it too!

    Hey Lindsay,

    Thanks muchly -and especially for the link to the Luke Prodomou, How to be a boring teacher article: in stitches! Now that's a teacher trainer I'd like to meet.

    Lindsay, Shonah
    When I think back to my fave teacher immediately I think of Prof Hein in High School, senior year.

    I had hated history until I met him. Hated with passion, those non-ending dates and meaningless facts (I'm dyslexic - writing numbers are a problem)..

    I could probably write an entire post dedicated to his antics in our classes (he stood on the table to give the Martin Luther King speech, cycled in to our classroom on a unicycle) but what he did most of all, above all, was he inspired in me a huge love of the past, a desire to explore the world's histories.

    Without Prof. Hein I would never have learned that I liked History.


  • Ekamin says:
    October 26, 2009

    Dear Karenne,
    I agree with your post.A motivated teacher will bring motivated students to the class. I strongly believe that the first thing for a highly motivated class is good relations with students. If they love you once then they are motivated and eager to listen to what you tell. I think love opens the doors once more...

  • Marie-Therese Le Roux says:
    November 15, 2009

    ... and today you have inspired me. Thank you.


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