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?


  1. 1 One Master Teacher Has It Down « On the Tenure Track

    […] April 14, 2008 in The Way It WereTags: absences, attendance, career, classroom, detention, editor, education, friend, great, journal, kleenex, master teacher, mentor, newspaper, part, part 1, procedure, quiz, radio, school, student teacher, tardies, teacher Part One of Four in my series on my two master teachers. […]

  2. 2 Lowered Standards or Straighter Priorities? « On the Tenure Track

    […] April 19, 2008 in The Way It WereTags: barrio, classes, English, graduate, intervention, letter, literature, mainstream, master teacher, maximum ride, part, part 3, priorities, scarlet, senior, straight, student teacher, students, teacher Part Three of Four in my series on my two master teachers. […]

  3. 3 My Other, Great, Master Teacher « On the Tenure Track

    […] April 16, 2008 in The Way It WereTags: administrators, back, contract, GED, great, high school, him, kids, laid, last, love, master, master teacher, my, other, profile, quit, reasons, sophomores, student teacher, teacher, theory, whiteboard, year Part Two of Four in my series on my two master teachers. […]

  4. 4 Never Live Too Close « On the Tenure Track

    […] April 22, 2008 in Interview a TeacherTags: administrators, back, contract, edublogosphere, GED, great, high school, him, kids, laid, last, love, master, master teacher, my, other, profile, quit, reasons, sophomores, student teacher, tci, teacher, theory, whiteboard, year Part Four of Four in my series on my two master teachers. […]




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