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Become a Great Teacher

Updated on August 1, 2013

Bill Gates hosted a seminar in which he stated that only about 20% of teachers truly teach great. And that only about 20% of our country benefits from this. So that 20% of the population is what’s driving innovation and technology. This is what has caused America to lead the world. But education has taken a backseat to many things lately: economics, politics, wars, scandals, etc. We cannot afford to let our education system deteriorate. If we lose this battle, America will watch as most other first-world countries quickly pass us by. We need to take action and support our education system, our teachers, and our children.

Given the grave importance of this, I thought it would be helpful to list ways in which teacher may more effectively instruct our students so that we shorten the gap. Instead of 20%, let’s make it 40%, or 60%, or dare I say even 100%?

In general, a classroom will be broken up where you have the bottom 25% of students that do poorly, the middle 50% that perform adequately, and the top 25% tat excel. Well what causes this to happen? Why do we not see a classroom with 80% doing poorly, or 80% excelling? It’s because teachers by and large have been employing the same traditional style of teaching that they grew up with. And so things remain largely unchanged. There’s that old axiom that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a change. Well, we need to create a change in order to expect a change. Below are helpful techniques that I have found to create such a change.

I know it compares to the UK, but look, the U.S. is in 14th place! Don't you think we should be in the top 5?
I know it compares to the UK, but look, the U.S. is in 14th place! Don't you think we should be in the top 5? | Source

1. Engage the students. Don’t just sit there reading from a book and expecting students to jump up and down for joy. Actually force them to participate. Call on them. Ask them for their opinion not just for the answer. Make them actually think for a change. Our society has become so used to not thinking it’s scary.

2. Switch up your methods. Don’t just read from the book every day. Or stare blankly at the class relating war stories in a monotonous tone. Or continually use PowerPoint. You need to diversify! Yes, of course use PowerPoint. But do that one day. The next day play a video. The next day bring a guest speaker. The next day allow for a discussion in the class. People get bored easily. The same is true for students. If you do the same thing every day, then expect the same response from your students every day.

3. Know your material. Of course no teacher knows everything. That’s not the point. But know the material you’re teaching. If you have no clue what the Krebs cycle is, and that’s the topic for tomorrow’s class, read up on it! Students can tell when a teacher knows what they’re talking about. And the more you practice, the more you project confidence. And students respond well to a teacher who projects confidence (just remember how students acted when you were in school to the teacher that was timid and soft spoken).

4. Respect your students. Don’t just simply expect them to respect you and your only obligation is to be the taskmaster. Your students are human too. Show them that you care about them. If you see them struggle or unsure of something, engage them. Explain things. Believe that they can learn and grow and succeed! That’s the whole point. If you only care about teaching the traditional “top 25%” and let the rest flounder, what do you think will happen?

Should Teachers be Teaching using the same Traditional Techniques?

See results

If you employ these techniques I assure you you will elicit a response and see a change for the better. Will ever student excel? Who knows? The point is to maximize the potential that exists in each class by trying to engage and help as many students as you can. Don’t give up. And don’t just do the same old thing expecting something different. You wouldn’t want to be labeled crazy now would you?


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