29 September 2007

Q&A Requirements to be a good teacher?

from Yahoo! Answers:
What are the requirements to be a good teacher?

posted by Kika

Best Answer - Chosen by Asker (written by Don Berg, Attitutor)

1. Passion for teaching and
2. a school or other teaching environment that supports you to express your passion for teaching.

The passion for teaching can take two forms, a passion for helping students OR a passion for living from the perspective of your subject. If you have both, then you are twice blessed.

If your passion is for the students, then you should play to that strength and structure your teaching as a process of following their interests as much as possible. That way you maximize their connection to learning process and their investment in success.

If your passion is centered on your subject, then you should play to that strength and structure your teaching as a process of discovering what the world looks like from the perspective. Every subject or field of study is a way of viewing the world, not just a bunch of information. As a view of the world there are things worth paying attention to and other things that are a waste of attention. If you were teaching biology, for instance, you would pay attention to which experimental animals are mating with other animals in the experiment, but you would ignore which experimenters were mating with other experimenters in the department. (Unless, of course, you applied the same experimental method and collected data to make a useful comparison of mating behaviors.)

The school or other teaching environment (in case you are home schooling or a "trainer" in a non-school setting) will be a very large factor in your experience of teaching. If you are passionate about the students and expect to be a warm fuzzy nurturing kind of teacher, but your school is all about strict adherence to government standards and teaching to get arbitrary test scores, then you will get severely disillusioned and burn-out.

Make sure that you get real solid information about any place you are expecting to teach. Figure out what your values are and then devise strategies for finding out what the real values of the school are, too. You would do well to make personal connections with current staff to make sure you can see through their marketing rhetoric to find out what really goes on.

There are, of course, exceptionally good teachers who bucked the system. John Taylor Gatto and Jaime Escalante are just two notable examples. But John Taylor Gatto did not even set out to be a teacher, let alone a maverick teacher who skirted the domination of the powers that be in the New York City Public Schools. According to what I have heard him say and have read he sort of backed into teaching and then stuck with it. In the process he became disillusioned, but had very strong values and some lucky breaks that allowed him to succeed.

Do yourself a favor and make your choices more deliberately than that so you can spend the next 20-30 years doing it right the first time, instead of figuring it out from scratch.

John Taylor Gatto's web site

Wikipedia on Jaime Escalante

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