Tuesday, August 14

What Good Teachers Say About Teaching (Berkeley)

Article: http://teaching.berkeley.edu/goodteachers/intro.html
A-Z Index (short essays): http://teaching.berkeley.edu/goodteachers/index.html

"At the University of California at Berkeley, the Distinguished Teaching Award was instituted in 1959 to recognize and reward excellence in teaching. Since the inception of the award, over 150 faculty in forty-eight departments have been honored...although these essays (by the award winners) were prepared independently over a number of years, there are striking similarities about what good teachers say about teaching. On at least ten propositions, the contributors are in near or total agreement:
  1. The teacher's main task is to guide students through the learning process, not to dispense information.
  2. The goal of teaching is to help students read, speak, write, and think critically—and to expect students to do these things.
  3. Learning is a "messy" process, and the search for truth and knowledge is open-ended.
  4. Good teachers love their subject matter.
  5. Good research and good teaching go hand in hand. Students' engagement with the subject is enhanced by knowing about the teacher's own research, and the interaction with students often provides new insights into the research.
  6. The best teachers genuinely respect students and their intellectual capabilities.
  7. Good teachers are rarely satisfied with their teaching. They constantly evaluate and modify what they do.
  8. Good teachers usually had good teachers, and they see themselves as passing on their own teachers' gifts to a new generation of students.
  9. Good teachers treasure the small moments of discovery in the classroom and the more enduring effect they have on students' lives.
  10. Good teachers do not see teaching as separate from other activities; rather, they see their lives as remarkably integrated."

"A professor can never better distinguish himself in his work than by encouraging a clever pupil, for the true discoverers are among them, as comets amongst the stars."
- Carolus Linnaeus (1707–1778)

(originally published in 1994)

Although, this resource includes no multimedia courseware or videos, it is a great source of inspiration (nurturing our thinking mind) to any teacher that wants to learn the art of teaching. I ask myself now, do I have all these 10 qualities mentioned above? And my obvious answer is of course "NO" (If you say "YES" with real substance, I recommend that you become my guru virtually). Now, how do we achieve all these qualities (traits, behaviours, characteristics and habits) and become a truly inspiring teacher to our dear students?

Well, to inspire others, we need to be inspired ourselves first. In other words, the first quality we need before we can succeed with the rest, is to be passionate about with what we do. Without, passion the rest is simply wishful thinking. However, with our passion we can conquer the other 9 qualities (and more) over time, but to achieve that we also need to be proactive, humble, patient, analytical, open-minded (to criticism and constructive feedback), and a strong belief that we can be as good as anyone. And the irony is that we can't achieve it, unless we believe it. Finally, when we achieve such greatness, we won't realize it (Others will though), because the more we know and do, the more loopholes we will discover in our teaching (or areas that need improvement), thanks to our evolving knowledge and analytical thinking abilities. Actually, the moment we think we are great, we have lost that bit of greatness, and gone back to being good (Sound a bit like Jim Collins and his 'Good to Great' stuff).

Yes, anything is possible, especially if some other dude with flesh and blood has done it before. The real question is whether we are willing to struggle enough to achieve it. We could start by reading some of the wonderful stories or essays in the A-Z index (URL above), and then discuss whether we have what it takes, and how we are planning to achieve it (or how we do/did it). Are you willing to share your little secret recipes to great teaching here?

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” - William Arthur Ward

In short, do we have the fire to inspire :)

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