Monday, July 28, 2014

A Great Teacher is...

Have you ever asked yourself in the depths of a bad day, "Why do I do this?" "Why did I decide to teach?" I am sure we've all done it. Here we are in the midst of summer, with the long days of lesson planning, grading, and organizing fading; and the fresh start of the back to school season ahead of us. Fresh ideas and faces and a whole year ahead to make memories and of course learn a few things.

I recently read an article in the Summer 2014 School & Community magazine (this is my local state teacher association publication) titled: A Great Teacher is... In this article students K-12 were asked, what makes a great teacher.

Here were a few of their answers, of course there were answers that make you laugh like:

  • You can visit them eney time in thier class because you can have a snack on fun Friday and your teacher will dress nice. --Shaylee 1st grader West County Elementary, Central R3
  • A great teacher loves ALL of her children. And she lets you have caterpillars in your classroom. --Emma 1st grader Masterson Elementary, Kennett 39
  • Good teachers should not let snakes out of their cages Maddisyn 2nd Grader Rolla 31
Then there were those that touched your heart
  • A great teacher is someone who pushes you, but not too hard. They have to understand you and get to know you. Rylie 4th grader Boswell Elementary, Lebanon R3
  • Teachers are great because of what they love some love math some love reading some love science but most of all they love us. Brianna 4th grader, Highland Elementary, Lewis CO. C-1
Here were my absolute favorites
  • All I know is I have a great one. I don't know what makes her so great, but she is. Lydia 4th grader Lebanon R3
  • What makes a great teacher is someone who teaches you more than just that subject. They teach you how to be a better person, how to act everyday, and live your life to the fullest. Teachers teach, but great teachers help us learn and live. Brooklyn, 12th grader, Fairfax R-3
Wow! How would you like to be that student's teacher. This article got me thinking...what do I think makes a great teacher? Again here it is the midst of summer, I've finally had some time to relax. Our two weeks of state testing is far behind us and so are the months of work that went into those two weeks, but soon the results will be released and we will be in "data mode". I am a lover of all things data related and am anxiously awaiting the charts, graphs, numbers and comparisons to my predictions. It is a sickness that is highly contagious. Our, patient zero, so to speak has been my principal who has really taught me how to use data not as a judgement tool, but to guide my identify my strengths and weaknesses and to help our building as a whole improve.  I say this because I never want the numbers, good or bad, to overshadow the achievements my students and I made together. So this blog post is to remind us 

Why do we do this...
What makes a great teacher...

A great teacher LOVES children, ALL children. They can see the talents in any child and use those to their advantage. So you may not be the best reader, but you are a whiz at math. Using these hooks we can get any student to try. Trying is all it takes to move forward and forward is where we want all students to go. They may not all end up crossing the same finish line, but a great teachers marches their students forward.

A great teacher pushes their students. This means pushing them outside of their comfort zone, it means making them feel uncomfortable, on purpose. It means NOT always giving them the answers. I always tell my students if it is hard then you are learning. If things are easy that means you already knew how to do it. Students need to understand that hard is a good thing and that most often, improvement comes after some sort of failure.

Great teachers strive to build relationships with each student. They are loyal, trustworthy and are great listeners. They "know" their students and in turn they "know" how to help them succeed. I feel my students would move mountains for me if I asked, simply because they know I love them.

Great teachers analyze, reflect, and plan for the future. They take ownership of their own learning. They share their strengths with others colleagues and they seek out strong teachers to balance out their weaknesses. 

So in this back to school season, with the release of new testing data, don't forget about what makes you great! It may not be reflected in the numbers on the page, but it is reflected in hearts of your students.

Now in the words of Kid President... Go out and be awesome!!!

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