I am delving into murky waters, but there seems to be an ‘elephant’ in the educational theorist’s classroom. There is a tremendous amount of literature about what makes a great teacher. However, there is a surprising dearth of research on the affect good students have on teacher performance. Come to think of it, that is understandable. The influence that a good student has on a teacher looks similar to what a good teacher does in the classroom. The primary difference is that the student, not the teacher, takes responsibility for his/her learning. Education is a symbiotic process. Both student and teacher are inexorably interrelated. So, here are some things that good students do that will directly contribute to better teaching.
Good students are:
- Self- Motivated…they proactively seek sources of knowledge and challenge.
- Want to Learn…displays interest and involvement in the subject.
- Have High Expectations…for performance and results.
- Take Pride… in their performance.
- Seek Feedback…in order to improve.
- Think Independently…by expressing personal perspective rather than being swayed by popular opinion.
- Respectful…of teachers, students and themselves.
- Take Risks…in order to learn from mistakes.
- Learn from Others…by using multiple sources of information and understanding.
- Flexible…adapt to different individuals and situation.
- Accept Responsibility…for their learning.
- Learn How to Learn…discover how they learn best.
- Focus… on what they are trying to learn.
- Tenacious…are not easily discouraged.
- Resilient…do not quit or become discourage when they encounter difficult.
- Welcome Challenges…as engaging and exciting
- Create… original ways to accomplish tasks.
- Work Hard…to be successful.
There is nothing unprecedented in my list. But, take note that I didn’t say good students have high IQ’s, exceptional working memory or receive straight “A’s.”
A good teacher is like a ceramist, molding malleable clay into original works of art. The result is pottery that is original and expressive.
A footnote…great parents make great teachers, too
Students who are self-centered and demand constant attention make things difficult for educators. Children often have difficulty accepting responsibility for their actions. Thus, the complaints like, “You’re mean” or “Mrs. Brainstorm doesn’t like me,” are smoke screens for irresponsible behavior. Teachers are overburdened with minutiae. If parents want to track their child’s progress, ask the child about his/her school day. Allow teachers to do their jobs, free of unnecessary intrusions. If there are problems, teachers will be glad to confer with any parent. As a team, the parents, school and teachers work best when they work together. The teacher is the quarterback. Support the QB and the team wins the game.