Sunday, January 15, 2012

Good Teaching!

She was my favorite teacher "Ms. SantaMaria" and there are pictures of her with me throughout my elementary years. What made Ms. SantaMaria so special was the connection she made with the students in our class. We knew she cared for us and we were inspired by her courage after she told us she was battling cancer and would have to wear a wig for sometime.

As a young adult I would think of her strength and character when I encountered difficult situations in my life. She was inspirational. As an educator the idea of being inspirational is something I try to embody in my teaching practice. Yesterday I had the opportunity to hear my students share personal examples of good teaching. There were many similar characteristics that emerged from the discussion.

Good Teachers:
* Content matter experts
* Motivates students to do their best
* Uses a variety of approaches to engage students
* Understand students needs
* Challenge students thinking
* Set goals and clear objectives
* Make learning enjoyable & interesting
* Share personal stories
* Clear and consistent communication
* Scaffold instruction
* Supportive and knows students individually
* Makes connections to personal lives
* Breaks down difficult content
* Available beyond school bell
* Show they care.

Each student shared their personal story from early elementary to college. Consistently the emotional connection they had with the teacher was central to the relationship. The more the students felt cared for and supported the more likely they were to take risk, make an effort to do well, persist in class and believe in themselves.

At the end of the day the most important thing to our students is not how well they do on an exam, but that they are cared for and supported by their teacher.

How do you show your students you care for them?


  1. A good teacher is actually something better then good, they are priceless. This is a teacher who can inspire a student to achieve what they might have thought was impossible. For me, my priceless teacher was Mr. Maines, who taught high school history. He acknowledged my passion for history and provided tools for me to pursue my passion. When the history class I wanted to take didn't fit into my schedule he coordinated for me to have an independent study so I could take the class during a free period that I had. He pushed me to achieve higher academic standards in my formal writing (a skill that served me well later in college). He helped me realize that if you want to accomplish something in life, you need to create a plan and then go after your goal.


    This is a link to a story that attempts to quantify a teacher's value. I think data like this helps to show the potential economic impact of a great teacher. I'm not driven by money, but I think this illustrates that more students from the "better teacher’s” class were overall more successful in financial endeavors i.e. a career. Thus we can conclude the impact of the teacher student interaction is positive and lasting. The aforementioned is simply a bi-product of the qualities/duties listed above. I personally try to show my students I care by making myself 100% available and approachable. This shows my students that they are important to me; it shows them I am dedicated to their learning. When I am continually challenging them and encouraging them to push harder it becomes motivation for them to succeed and accomplish something they might not have otherwise tried. I level with my students, I am open and honest about myself, and the things I do to prepare for each day of school. I think it shows students that I too have challenges that I want to accomplish, that I myself and still a learner, and how important it is too never stop challenging yourself. This caring attitude is critical for student success. A young learner needs to know that you care whether they succeed or fail. Demonstrating the mentioned qualities lets them know you care, and supports their motivation to achieve.

  3. Hi Steven,

    Thank you for sharing the link to this article although I am a bit skeptical to believe that teacher effectiveness can be measured based on students test scores and test scores alone can determine the effectiveness of a teacher and the impact they had in a child's life. There are many external factors that influence student achievement such as family, resources, life experiences, community and child disposition. Although I do believe a "good teacher" can make a difference in a child's life; I think a "bad teacher" can as well. For example I had a teacher who once told me I would never graduate from college. however this experience caused me to work harder and strive more so I could prove her wrong. Have you ever experienced a "bad teacher" in which you learned an invaluable life lesson?