What Makes Two Great, Different Teachers
April 12, 2008 in The Way It Were
Tags: authoritarian, classroom, different, dissimilar, education, gender, great, makes, master, master teacher, overrated, pronouns, qualities, student, student teacher, teacher, two, veteran, what
My two master teachers are dissimilar. I suppose some of you have figured this out.
Don’t feel foolish if you haven’t recognized that I do, in fact, have two master teachers, and that they are very different. So far, I’ve acknowledged both as “my master teacher,” distinguishing between them only with my use of pronouns. I understand any confusion, because even those pronouns are alike: him and her, he and she.
There’s a hell of a lot more difference between these veteran educators than gender, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
One is authoritarian; the other is easygoing. One establishes her authority through her established Way of Doing Things; the other earns it through banter, wit and well-meaning ribbing. One quietly affirms her authority, the other will raise his voice if needed. One teaches AP Psychology, the other mentors would-be-college-bound AVID sophomores.
As a new teacher, I need this balance. I need her lessons, hashed out over years of browsweat; I need his lessons, sometimes made on a whim and rarely written down in advance.
Every other day over the next week or two, you will read vignettes of each of these radically different educators, and my perception of their outlook.
Through these examples, I hope to answer the fundamental question we all face: What makes a great teacher, and how do I become one?
Answer for me: Which qualities make a good teacher great? Which qualities are important but usually overemphasized? Which are underemphasized?
Every day, we experience a thousand moments, each of those moments setting in motion a thousand slightly different possibilities in the future. When we make these choices, we are thrust toward another day's crossroads, where we have another thousand choices.
Given the infinite number of choices we make in a lifetime, why do we choose so many of the same routes and make just as many of the same mistakes as our parents and grandparents?
I plan to learn from their mistakes. Let's see how far I get.
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