The seven secrets behind great teaching – Published in TES (Times Educational Supplement) on 8 May, 2009 The TES magazine teamed up with business psychologists to analyse the personalities, motivations and behaviour of 15 award-winning teachers to uncover the seven habits that make them successful in the classroom. Here are the results. 1. _____ Many pupils suffer from low self-esteem, basing their aspirations on celebrities and feeling disappointed when their lives don’t match up, so teachers have to create self-belief in abundance.
One head teacher consistently celebrates pupils’ success – individually and as a group – by developing mottos with an element of “believe in yourself” and holding award ceremonies. Teachers can inspire self-belief and optimism, and this is something that can be learnt and developed throughout a teacher’s career. David Miller, a secondary teacher in Glasgow, believes that building self-belief should be fundamental. “It’s so much to do with your connection with the child and valuing everything that a child has.
Teachers also need to instil a culture of integrity and respond seriously to children, as they would to an adult,” he says. 2. _____ The judgements teachers make on a day-to-day basis have a profound impact on children’s lives. Good teachers are comfortable making difficult or unpopular choices. The kind of choices will change according to a teacher’s specific role in school but all teachers need to have authority and be capable of making potentially difficult choices in the classroom. Teachers may not consider the judgements they make as difficult, because they have confidence in their own authority.
“I think that anybody who’s sensitive is afraid of difficult choices,” says teacher Mr Jamison. “But at the same time, if you’re really focused, what looks like a difficult choice isn’t, because you know what’s right. ” 3. _____ This behaviour is the most prominent among excellent teachers. As well as helping your pupils to grow, it’s about improving your own and others’ capabilities by providing opportunities for career development, giving coaching and constructive feedback. In school, this behaviour may be seen when teachers give up their time to help other colleagues acquire new skills
or organise training days. Kirsten Darling, a primary school teacher in Scotland, says this is definitely something she’s experienced throughout her teaching career. “The relationship I had with my mentor when I was an NQT was a very important relationship and both of us benefited. I learnt so much from her years of experience, and I was able to help her with things like ICT,” she says. 4. _____ Being able to transmit ideas well is fundamental to teaching. This is an inspiring behaviour and is about getting the same message across to a range of pupils of different abilities.
It’s also about being able to deal with a wide variety of other people, not just pupils – parents, colleagues, the wider community and pupils. Many teachers use school displays, songs or analogies to get their message across. If you understand your audience, you can tailor your behaviour to communicate and inspire other people more effectively. Teachers have to work with many different communities and needed to empathise with minority groups, parents, different cultures and religions. 5. _____ Teachers may get frustrated with pupils who insist on their individuality at every opportunity, but teachers don’t all like to be the same.
They are comfortable in ambiguous situations where things are likely to change and they enjoy coming up with new ideas. They need to enjoy their jobs and are more likely to become bored or dissatisfied if they aren’t given the opportunity to innovate. Many people go into teaching because they want to be creative by devising lesson plans, leading extra-curricular activities and even just dealing with daily school life. This quality goes against much of the reality of teaching, given that there are so many restrictions placed on teachers. While teachers may not always admit to it, teachers tend to get bored easily.
They generally don’t like doing the same thing day in, day out. And the pupils find that more interesting too. 6. _____ While a vast proportion of the population spend their working life in front of a screen, teachers spend most of their professional lives in front of children. So it’s good to know that teachers like being with other people and there is a strong tendency towards helping each other. This goes hand in hand with being a good communicator. “I don’t think you would go into teaching if you didn’t enjoy teamwork,” says Ms Darling. “I definitely like to be in the middle of things.
This is also apparent outside of the classroom in meetings – it’s so much more interesting to bounce ideas off each other. ” However, some teachers also show a high preference for being a technical specialist – that is, motivated by being really great at one particular thing. 7. _____ Teachers prefer to look at strategic objectives rather than get involved with the minute details of planning or administrative tasks. Teachers are all quite good at looking at what other schools are doing, looking outside of their immediate surroundings and even outside of education.
Teachers who are seen to be better at their jobs become more senior and are given bigger management responsibilities. If you’re a head of year or department you start having to take on a wider vision. Mr Miller believes in taking this approach in the classroom as well as at the level of management. “I feel like there’s a deep learning going on in my class – the pupils engage with the texts,” he says. “In this way, I think outstanding teachers look at the whole child. ” However, teachers are often so busy with the day-to-day things, that they don’t have a chance to think about other things.
But teachers are always conscious of the fact when they’re teaching a lesson, that pupils are going to be taking an exam that will potentially have an impact on the rest of their lives. EXERCISES 1. Match the ‘secrets’ of great teachers to the paragraphs. a. They’re not afraid to make difficult decisions b. They’re non-conformists c. They’re good communicators d. They enjoy the company of others e. They see the bigger picture f. They develop others g. They build confidence 2. Find words or expressions in the text for these definitions: a. correspond (paragraph 1) b. prize (paragraph 1) c.
position (paragraph 2) d. sure of yourself (paragraph 2) e. new teacher (paragraph 3) f. computers (paragraph 3) g. modify (paragraph 4) h. identify with (paragraph 4) i. thinking of (paragraph 5) j. preparing (paragraph 5) k. is connected to (paragraph 6) l. exchange suggestions (paragraph 6) m. very small (paragraph 7) n. exceptional (paragraph 7) Discussion 1. Think of two practical things can a teacher do to improve children’s self-esteem 2. Give two examples of difficult decisions that teachers sometimes have to make. 3. When you become a teacher, how would you like to develop your career?
4. In what ways are you a non-conformist? 5. Would you like to be a technical specialist, a people person, or both? Why? 6. Are you good at attending to detail or do you prefer to look at the big picture? Why? The seven secrets behind great teaching – Published in TES (Times Educational Supplement) on 8 May, 2009 1. Pre-reading class discussion What makes a great teacher? Write students suggestions on the board. 2. First reading – read to see how many of your suggestions appear in the article. 3. Second reading – match the ‘secrets’ to the paragraphs. 4. Vocabulary exercise. 5.
Discussion – make notes individually, then discuss in pairs. ANSWERS 1. Match the secrets to the paragraphs. 1. g 2. a 3. f 4. c 5. b 6. d 7. e 2. Find words or expressions in the text for these definitions: a. match up (paragraph 1) b. award (paragraph 1) c. role (paragraph 2) d. focused (paragraph 2) e. NQT (paragraph 3) f. ICT (paragraph 3) g. tailor (paragraph 4) h. empathise (paragraph 4) i. coming up with (paragraph 5) j. devising (paragraph 5) k. goes hand in hand with (paragraph 6) l. bounce ideas off (paragraph 6) m. minute (paragraph 7) n. outstanding (paragraph 7)