What Makes aMaster Teacher
By George Couros, April 24, 2010
The term “master teacher” seems to get thrownaround a lot, but is something that many educatorsaspire to be. In my ten years in the field ofeducation, I would say that the definition of“master teacher” has definitely changed. When Ithink of a master teacher, here are the qualitiesthat I would suggest they have:
Connects with kids first -For all students to excel,teachers must learn about them and connect witheach child. This is not just about finding out howthey learn, but it is finding out who they are. It isessential that we get to know our students, learntheir passions, and help them find out how we canengage them in their own learning. If you are notable to do this as a teacher, the followingcharacteristics will be moot,
Teaches kids first and curriculum second – Teachers must ensure that they differentiatelearning and work to meet the needs of eachstudent and understand how they each learn. Ibelieve that students have different learning stylesand if we can best figure out how to help themmeet their own needs, students will excel in thesubject areas we teach.
Ensures that they draw relevance to curriculum – The question, “What does this have to do with reallife?”, is something that I would prefer never besaid in a classroom. Not because it is not alegitimate question, but because teachers shouldshow the relevance before there is an opportunityfor it to be asked. As we are obligated to teachcurriculum objectives outlined by our governmentofficials, this is something that must be done. It isnot always an easy part of the job but it issomething we much continuously strive to do.Not only is it essential that we draw relevance tothe subject matter of what we teach, but it is alsoessential that we use mediums that are relevant tohow students learn. Disconnecting from devicesthat WE use as adults and kids use all the time theminute students walk into school is wrong. Amaster teachers knows that it is essential to usetechnology in the classroom to enhance learningin a way that is relevant to students.
Works with students to develop a love of learning – We are obligated to teach curriculum objectivesbut we are also obligated in our profession to helpstudents find their own spark in learning. Why do Iwrite this blog? It is my way of connecting withothers and reflecting on my own learning. It is away that I choose to share and learn with others.There is no pay or compensation that I receivefrom this. A master teacher will try to tap into thoseways that students love to learn and build uponthat. Creating that spark in each student will leadthem to continued success and growth.
Embodies lifelong learning – A master teacher knows that they will never become the “perfect”teacher since that is unattainable. They will look atways that they can grow along with students anddevelop their own skills. Education and learningwill always change and a master teacher knowsthat they need to change with it. I have seenteachers that have proclaimed that they aremaster teachers but have not changed their practice in years. Growth is essential as a teacher.Society changes continuously and so do its needs.We need thinkers in our workplace and teachersmust show that they are on the leading edge ofthis.
Focuses on learning goals as opposed toperformance goals – Reading “Drive” by Dan Pink,he talks about the difference betweenperformance and learning goals. A performancegoals would be similar to having students wantingto receive an “A” in french where a learning goalwould be a student wanting to become fluent inthe language. Many students are smart enoughthat they know how to meet the objectives of arubric and still not grow much in their learning. Amaster teacher sets the goals based on learningnot on receiving a grade. This type of assessment isnot about understanding what a students knowsand reporting on it, but it is a tool used for learning.
Growth is essential as a teacher. Society changescontinuously and so do its needs. We need thinkers in our workplace and teachers must show that they are on theleading edge of this.
Ensures that “character education” is anessential part of learning – Character education is just as relevant, if not more so, than any learningobjectives set out in a curriculum. We live in aworld where collaboration is vital to success and