I have learned a great deal about teaching over the past few years. From how to put together a good test to how to time a lecture without people going to sleep. There is a world of difference between subject matter experts and teachers. There is a lot of difference between just saying coherent things about a subject, and being able to engage students in a meaningful way, help them learn new concepts and processes, and then evaluate them on their performance.
As time goes on I continue to refine my list of things that it takes to be a good teacher, rather than a subject matter expert with a classroom.
- Entertainment. At least half of teaching is grabbing students attention and keeping it.
- Patience. Students will learn at their own pace, not always at yours.
- Planning. Your students will have a plan for your class time. You won’t like theirs.
- Self-Care. Any teacher who doesn’t take time for themselves will soon become useless to everyone.
- Alternatives. No single explanation will work for all of your students, so be ready to help the outliers.
- Empathy. Listen to your students, they will tell you (and show you) what they need.
- Communication. Because you can’t really go wrong when you talk to your colleagues and your students.
One of the things that you can’t really fake: enthusiasm. Being excited about the subject matter, and feeling good about showing it to others is something that students appreciate. Plus it helps that coming to work does not feel like work.
Also, a sense of humor can help you keep sane.
Now… it is time to warp some minds.