Over the last eight years I have had the privilege of listening to and reading from the work of some very well respected educators on what makes the biggest difference to student progress. Hattie, Fullan, Khan, Benson and Wilson are all surnames of people who wrote books about education. I am sure at least a couple of them have argued for the point that having great teachers is the thing that gives our students the best chance of success.
Ultimately we can introduce different intiatives, programs and technologies in our school but it all means little unless we have great teachers in our schools. Part of the challenge for all of us is how do we ensure that we get the most out of ourselves and each other everyday. What steps can we take to ensure that we are taking a step towards greatness that is going to help our students? I emphasise here that this lofty goal of greatness is not something that anyone I know would comfortably admit. Perhaps it is a hallmark of great teachers to be very critical of themselves and hence unlikely to describe themselves in that regard. What is important is the journey and the constant and continued improvement and refinement of practice that striving to be great (to steal LeBron’s motto) entails.
We all have ideas about what makes a great teacher, building positive relationships, high expectations, passion, knowledge and adopting the growth mindset of a lifelong learner are all traits that come to mind and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees that these are characteristics typical of great teachers. If we want to obtain a deeper understanding of these things so that we can learn adopt and share our learning with colleagues we need to be constantly looking at and learnng from our most effective teachers.
I want to try and make a conscious effort to learn form the most effective people not just in my own school but also in other schools. It is no good…I will rephrase that, the amount of influence of great teachers is severely limited if they teach in isolation. With their impact rarely escaping the four walls of their classrooms. We need to involve great teachers in important decisions in our schools, we need support, encourage and praise them for their efforts so that they will feel more inclined to share some of their insights. We need to be thinking creatively and be careful with our interactions so that our great teachers feel valued and their influence spreads in our schools and beyond.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I really enjoy myself when I am learning something new. I want to keep doing this as much as I can so why not learn form the best!