On the other hand, each and every one of us know what a good teacher is when we meet them. For more on this please go to "Great Teacher" Judgment Call or Objective Evaluation" and to read about the economic value of a good teacher, please see "Teachers' Worth."
|Art by Viktor Hachmang courtesy of The New York Times 5/4/2013 "A Talent for Teaching"|
Quality teachers are those who respect their students, take learning profiles and affinities into account while keeping the bar of expectations high. Good teachers talk with their students not to them, and good teachers find ways to make learning meaningful and exciting - their classes are ALIVE!!!
So, in my own personal quest to define quality education and with Eph's project in mind, I devote this post to quality teachers and their classroom contributions from articles and posts I've recently found. Below are three examples of teachers who have creatively found ways to reach students while raising the bar:
1. Peter Nonacs talks about letting his class "cheat." Nonacs, a professor in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at UCLA teaches juniors and seniors about animal behavior. According to an article he posted "Cheating to Learn: How a UCLA Professor Gamed a Game Theory Midterm" he notes:
Animals and their behavior have been my passions since my Kentucky boyhood and I strive to nurture this love for nature in my students...Much of evolution and natural selection can be summarized in three short words: "Life is games." In any game, the object is to win...Game Theory, is devoted to mathematically describing the games that nature plays...
So last quarter I had an intriguing thought while preparing my Game Theory lectures. Tests are really just measures of how the Education Game is proceeding...What if I let the students write their own rules for the test-taking game? Allow them to do everything we would normally call cheating?
A week before the test, I told my class that the Game Theory exam would be insanely hard...but as recompense, for this one time only, students could cheat. They could bring and use anything or anyone they liked, including animal behavior experts...surf the Web... talk to each other or call friends who'd taken the course before...Only violations of state or federal criminal law such as kidnapping my dog, blackmail, or threats of violence were out of bounds...
On the day of the hour-long test they faced a single question: "If evolution through natural selection is a game, what are the players, teams, rules, objectives and outcomes?"
One student immediately ran to the chalkboard and she began to organize the outputs for each question section. The class divided tasks. They debated. Whey worked on hypotheses...A schedule was established for writing the consensus answers...
For more please press the links above for the article as well as for a KCRW interview.
2. In the New York Times Sunday Dialogue: A Talent for Teaching (May4, 2013) David Greene a staff writer for WISE Services, treasurer of Save Our Schools, and former teacher mentor for Teach for America writes that:
Seasoned professionals know what works: being creative, independent, spontaneous, practical and rule-bending. Often it is the least orthodox teacher who most engages and excites students. Scripts and rules and models strictly followed cannot
The practical wisdom of good teaching is more than being creative or spontaneous. It is knowing when and how to use best practices. It includes how to prepare and use great questions, and knowing when to veer to places students take us. It includes when and how to use the science of teaching as well as the art. Practical wisdom is not following a script prepared by others who do not know your students and how they work. Teaching is both an art and a science...a great teacher inspires.3. Sue Mellon teachers poetry to 7th and 8th graders by integrating science, technology, engineering math and art with Robert Frost's poetry. As Barbara Ray writes in Mind/Shift's "Combining Robotics With Poetry? Art and Engineering Can Co-Exist" (4/4/13):
Poetry isn't always easy for students. But with hands-on engagement, they gain new understanding. Take Robert Frost's "Pasture." Instead of just reading and discussing the work in a typical classroom setting, students make 21st-century dioramas with robotic tool kits containing sensors, motors, LEDs, and a controller...
Stories like Mellon's can be found all around the Allegheny School District these days as the area, already renowned for its groundbreaking work in STEM, takes on STEAM. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math...But as STEM took hold, some began to wonder if there was a component missing. Enter the STEAM movement...STEM needs to include art and design...the A is the creative ART element...[and the Congressional STEAM Caucus was launched.]
For those loyal readers who have read my other posts, I prefer not repeating some of the other inspiring teachers I've already spoken about. But for the uninitiated visitor, I urge you to read about the inspiring slam poetry of Taylor Mali - Part I and Part II , and the real-life math lessons of Lockhart's Lament. They too are inspired and inspiring teachers.
Finally, there are the fictional teachers from movies. And, while they may be fictional, their characters and lessons spark and inspire teachers and students alike:
- Mr. Glenn Holland (from Mr. Holland's Opus)
- Professor John Keating (from Dead Poet's Society)
- Mr. Mark Thackeray (from To Sir With Love)
- Miss Riley (from October Sky)
- Mr. Forrester (from Finding Forrester)
- Professor Melvin Tolson (from The Great Debaters)
In closing, the teachers and lessons above do involve a confidence and 'artistic' twist. Successful teachers and lessons pull on passions in acting, gaming, performance skills, even cooking. So maybe Eph is on the right track. What do you think?
Please leave your impressions, experiences and reactions in the comments below.
And as always, thank you for your visit!