Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Elements of Successful Teaching

Recently, I watched this video by the Teaching Channel. They interviewed several National Teachers' of the Year. I enjoyed watching the video, and it offered some insights into the importance of culture, content knowledge, accountability, and collaboration--all elements needed for successful teaching.

The Importance of Culture:
It is imperative that teachers know their students, and take the time in the first few weeks of the year to establish a safe learning environment. This includes rules, routines, and schedules. However, it also includes interest surveys, goal setting for the semester, and discussions on the importance of academic achievement. Once a strong culture is established, the class can begin move deeper into the content areas.

Content is King, along with Accountability:
Students must learn the content for achievement to take place. It's vital to utilize every minute in the classroom for learning, and check for understanding through formative and summative assessments. Then, reflect and determine which students are in need of  instructional help.

Beyond knowledge of the content, students need to be accountable for their learning. It's not enough to give a student a "0" for not turning in a paper. Students must do the work, even if it means they have no recess, lunch with their friends, or extracurricular activities. If students aren't held accountable to an unwavering high standard, they will not reach their full academic potential.

Teachers must also continue to learn their content. We are never done, and the minute we think we've learned all we can, or have perfected our teaching is the day we should receive our retirement papers. We must strive to be better every day.

Collaboration is the Stuff of Champions:
Champions don't run from adversity, they run toward it. There are problems we face as teachers that should not be conquered alone. Seeking help, saying, "You know, I just don't know how to help this student. Can you help me, please?" to another teacher is a great way to seek solutions. There is some pride swallowing and humility needed, but it's important to know that we are all stronger together, so why not be the first to take the plunge? Teacher collaboration creates a bond and strength that is necessary for the overall well being of a school's culture and success.

Below is the link to the video that brought me to write this reflection. I suggest all teachers follow the Teaching Channel. It's a wonderful resource for growth and inspiration.

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