As human civilization evolves, the role of educator requires an ever-wider range of personal and professional talents and skills. Today’s effective teacher must demonstrate excellence in communication and possess multi-faceted skills related to the creative presentation of curriculum, including the accurate assessment of individual and group needs. Because young people learn correct patterns of attitude and behavior by example, the finest teachers need an innate enthusiasm for both the subject matter and the process of educating.
Teachers must accurately assess the needs of individual students to ensure appropriately challenging instruction and learning goals. Each student should be evaluated for his or her unique patterns of growth, the literacies they enjoy outside of school, their cultural and genealogical traditions and viewpoints, and their learning attribution perspectives. In turn, their teachers should respond in a compassionate and instinctive manner. The successful nurturing of unique talents and strengths in individual students aids in the development of motivation, self-respect, and a general love for learning.
Effective instruction must be planned and deliberate. A good teacher should be articulate and precise in the presentation of information. To allow their students to communicate well, the basics of language, grammar, reading, and writing should be systematically taught and reviewed at the onset of each school year. Through dialogic and discursive self-reflection, review of basic sentence structure elements, employment of literary comprehension strategies for decoding and interpreting texts, use of note-taking/outlining for reading-with-purpose, and reinforcement of intra-group dynamic protocols, students will have the skills necessary to move more efficaciously through the year-at-hand.
As the school year progresses, teachers should introduce more review and community-building strategies, such as learning pairs, carousel brainstorming, peer-writing/review, and small group presentations. They should use progressively more challenging learning strategies and literary analysis techniques, such as the ‘Socratic Seminar’, to teach students to respect the ideas of their peers and to work toward consensus. The use of PowerPoint or Keynote presentations enable instructors to keep track of covered material, review concepts, reiterate goals, and help students see and reflect upon what they learned from week to week. Once routines like these are in place and students feel validated and respected, the empowerment of the community as a whole becomes a positive and achievable endgame.
In order to minimize student anxiety, the best teachers orchestrate a project-based environment and implement creative alternative assessment techniques. They know when they may successfully move into the role of facilitator and when their students are ready to work independently. Once in the role, the facilitator must stay engaged in the activities they initiate. They should move through their classrooms, quietly conferring with students, adjusting and reevaluating the success of their lesson plan and the appropriateness of short-term goals. In order to keep students engaged and enthusiastic, vibrant teachers frequently vary cooperative learning strategies for classroom management and rapport building.
With a combination of skills, insight, dedication, and perspicacity, an educator can successfully meet the challenge of today’s profession. The future of our society depends on teachers who can properly equip our youth to face this complex world with a positive attitude and faith in their unique talents. Through their dedication to intellectual growth and desire to pass this feeling along to others, the best teachers help make the formidable future seem more attainable for all of their students.
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© LISA PURVIN OLINER