Wednesday, 10 July 2013

How do we decide what makes a good teacher?

I know I moan about work a lot, but they KEEP giving me things to moan about!

The latest idea is having students grade the teachers. They will give them a grade for a number of criteria, such as: does the teacher put up objectives? Does the teacher have high expectations? Does the teacher tackle discrimination in class?

In theory, this is a good idea. Learners should be comfortable in a classroom. In reality, learners have a very different idea of a 'good' teacher in comparison to staff, parents or managers.

teacher assessment

A teacher's idea of a good teacher

  • Cares about the students
  • Will go above and beyond to support learners to achieve (but not do the work for them - which requires some interest and commitment from the students)
  • Is fair
  • Has a good sense of humour and good communication (I accept - not all teachers value this but I very much do)
  • Learners know that if they do their best, they have done enough
  • Commitment to help the student when they ask for help
  • Takes time to learn about the students personally
  • Know your students and how they are coping with each lesson and whether or not they understand the teaching
  • Adapt to help students

A manager's idea of a good teacher

  • All students pass
  • Lessons finish on time
  • Students always follow college rules
  • Everything students do is tracked
  • Keep clear records of EVERYTHING
  • Do endless amounts of admin
  • Never lets students use their phones in class 

A student's idea of a good teacher
  • Lets students leave early
  • Chats to students about things they're interested in
  • Doesn't mind if they get their phones out
  • Lets them break the rules and mess around
  • Doesn't tell them off
Ok, so this is a bit simplistic, and not all students want to sit and mess about all lessons, but there are a lot who would if the teacher allowed it, and get annoyed when the teacher pushes them to do work. I'm just trying to highlight that what the students value right now isn't necessarily what they will value when they get their results, or when they're older. One of my students said to me "My Mum would be a great teacher." I answered "Why?" She said, "She'd be cool. She'd let us have a fag out the window if we wanted". The student was aged 19. If that is what students want in a teacher, how are they going to grade the ones who actually work hard to get them to complete work? It's getting to the point where teachers can't win. They either please the management or the students, but either way they get told they're not good enough. Who would want to be in a career where you have to be on-guard, responsible for a group of people and work really hard to make sure they have the best opportunities when they will say you're no good when asked? These are the reasons why so many teachers leave the profession, and why I hope to move into Educational Psychology in a few years. Teaching is a job that people do for the love of inspiring others, and yet find it an uphill struggle and continuously criticised. Teachers can never win.

What do we do about it? Offer support to teachers? Give them a different set of standards to live up to? I think we need to accept the difficulties in evaluating teachers and create an attainable set of criteria. We also need to help teachers to enjoy their jobs rather than growing to resent them. The continual criticism and pressure becomes hard to take.

Are you a teacher? How do you feel about this?

If you're not a teacher - do you think you could have fairly assessed your teachers when you were in education?


Tall Slim Sally said...

Well I don't agree with your view on what students most want from a teacher or lecturer. I want a teacher who will help me to get the best possible grade that I am capable of achieving.

Lucinda Harrington said...

That'd good. Maybe you are the exception. Maybe it's because I only teach young people who have already gained below a C grade at GCSE. I still don't think that means they should pick and choose their teachers and be used to have ones they don't like fired (which is the way it seems to be going where I work).

sheila said...

a good teacher is one who inspires you to want to learn .trouble is you often only appreciate those teachers later.i think asking students to grade teachers is a step too far.