“If you dare to teach, then you must dare to learn” this is how Harry Wong has summarized his book in just one sentence. His book is not a ‘plan’ or a ‘model’ but full of suggestions and experiences of other ‘successful’ teachers.
First chapter is about being an ‘effective teacher. Here is a brief summary:
A. Your success during the school year will be determined by what you do on the first days of school. This day will either make you or break you!
B. Student achievement at the end of the year is directly related to the degree to which the teacher establishes good control of the classroom procedures in the very first week.
Effective & Efficient:
Being ‘efficient’ means to do things right.
Being ‘effective’ means to do the right thing consistently!
Four Stages of Teaching:
a. Don’t fantasize that you are a ‘perfect’ teacher. This will close the doors on you of learning and improving.
b. Don’t ‘survive’ teaching. If you are not ‘enjoying’ it then quit!
c. Employ “effective” practices to achieve student success. Manage classroom, teach for mastery, and have high expectations. This can only happen by reading and relating to professionals.
d. Impact your students’ lives. Open the door of learning.
*Effective teachers Affect Lives*
The Effective Teacher:
1. Has positive expectations for students
2. Is an extremely good classroom manager
3. Knows how to design lessons for student mastery.
4. MAKES himself/herself do the things that unsuccessful people will not do.
5. Teaches students how to ‘think’.
6. Is adaptable and flexible
8. Understands how and why research is done.
9. Learns from others and seeks out mentor as a role model.
10. Has a goal of striving for excellence.
(The following is from Dr. Mamdouh Muhammad’s lectures for the same class):
FOUR MAJOR CHARACTERISTICS OF AN EFFECTIVE TEACHER
- Knowledge of a scholar
- Design of an engineer or the practice of a surgeon
- Attitude of a merciful parent
- Managing ability of a team leader or CEO
A teacher should be very qualified and have adequate knowledge to the degree of a ‘scholar’ depending on the area where s/he teaches or depending on the level of students, like high school students, or elementary school students.
Knowledge is crucial in teaching. If a teacher lacks knowledge of the content or the subject of his/her teaching, s/he will be perplexed when students ask and teacher is not able to answer.
However, even a very knowledgeable teacher can come across questions that s/he cannot answer, but a ‘knowledgeable’ teacher is able to handle the situation confidently, whereas a teacher who lacks knowledge lacks confidence too and this can lead the situation out of his her control. In other words, learning should be an ongoing process for a successful teacher.
Problem: Teachers don’t keep up with the new knowledge in their filed once they gain some experience.
2. Ability to Design an Effective Lesson Plan.
This design method is called ‘instructional designer’ or ‘instructional technology’.
How a teacher designs lessons will directly affect his/her teaching method.
Teacher needs to get the ability of how to design the lesson, starting form the goal and the skills that will be integrated, and the subject matter or content that will be presented, and the evaluation of how to evaluate and how students can benefit in ‘real’ life.This area needs a lot of hard work on a teacher’s part.
Designing is one part but practice is another issue. Design can be very well but in practice it may not work so teachers need to design and then practice to see if it works. In fact, one of the definitions of teacher is ‘knowledge carrier in action’. They need to see the knowledge acting and working in real situation in real classroom.
The other aspect is how to practice or how to present the lesson plan to the students.
Practice is different from designing and these two are totally different from knowledge.
Many teachers may have a lot of knowledge, very adequate for the level they teach at, but they cannot easily design a plan to present to their students. Or even if they are able to design they cannot practice it well. Sometimes other teachers work better in classes on their own better then those who actually develop the lesson plan.
An important advice: Steal and learn from other teachers how to apply knowledge and design lesson plan.
Practice, however, is another profession of a teacher. Knowledge is acquired when a teacher is studying at college or university. Designing can also be achieved there too. However, practice is from experience.
Practice also requires being skillful like a surgeon because they are in a more delicate situation then a surgeon! They are handling a human personality, a human brain and the minds of their students. These valuable human beings will be effected by whatever practice the teachers carry out during the teaching.
3. Attitude of a Merciful Parent:
This characteristic has nothing to do with 1 or 2 or practice.
Ø Teachers need the attitude of a loving, merciful, ambitious parent.
Ø The teachers need to be positive in every aspect, when they present the content, positive when they integrate the skill, positive when they comment on students, positive on the feed back on evaluation or assignments, positive on high expectations.
Ø One of the teachers’ jobs is to provide and prepare their students for the next level and do whatever is needed to take them from one academic level to a higher level. This requires teachers to realize and learn “Individual Differences”.
“Individual differences” is to remember that it is impossible in the whole world to find students of identical characteristics. Every student has specific needs, good and weak points.
So a teacher should not have ‘one’ standard level for all students. A good teacher is the one who mobilizes the abilities of a student and raise them higher then the current level that they are at. But if a teacher put one standard for all students, it means he/she is depriving important and good skillful advance students from learning more.
That’s why one of the more challenging situations is to deal with different level students and address their needs. This requires a lot of experience and there are many techniques that can be learned from other teachers.
Without the positive expectations, the skills of a student may not increase a lot which is a great loss not only for the school but for the whole nation in general because the teacher didn’t utilize all the potential of the students in the area that they were skillful at.
Ø Also, a teacher must be fair, academically and morally, with all students. Teachers must learn how to control their emotion and neutralize emotions when dealing with students regardless of their race, color, or nationality. Remember the Islamic principle: ‘be fair because this is the closest to piety’!
Ø Teacher must also be a helper and guide to each and every student.
4. Managing Ability:
Teacher must know how to manage and control the classroom like a team leader or a CEO of a company. If the teacher cannot manage the time and behavior of the students, s/he may not be able to fulfill the goals of the curriculum of the course.
To sum up about these four skills of an effective teacher, the teacher must have the patience to gain these skills, it doesn’t happen overnight. Kalmaza’ is referred to in Arabic to the skill of watching other teachers and learning from them their teaching skills.