I have not found a better description of what it takes to succeed in the classroom than what I first read almost twenty years ago in The Elements of Teaching by James M. Banner and Harold C. Cannon.
According to Banner and Cannon, good teaching contains eight essential elements.
1. Learning: A good teacher loves learning. They have mastered the subject, and their love of learning for the sake of learning is infectious.
2. Authority: A good teacher has authority in the classroom, an authority that comes from the knowledge and character of the teacher. If the teacher is not respected, the teacher’s desire to help students learn is pointless.
3. Order: A good teacher has effective classroom management skills. Good classroom management takes many forms: routine procedures, high expectations, reasonable rules of conduct, realistic expectations, equitable rewards and penalties. An orderly classroom is the place where good teaching begins.
4. Ethics: A good teacher is an ethical person who understands the responsibilities of the profession. An ethical teacher is one who puts the needs of the students before anything else. An ethical teacher is one who is sensitive to the beliefs and culture of every student.
5. Imagination: Good teachers are imaginative. They possess the ability to approach their subject in a way that captures the attention of their students and enhances learning. Good teachers find a way to engage students.
6. Compassion: Good teachers care about their students. They care about making the world better.
7. Character: Good teachers are good people. Good teaching stems from the character and personality of the teacher.
- Good teachers are authentic human beings. They are the author of their own words.
- Good teachers are consistent.
- Good teachers are emotionally stable. Students allow little tolerance for moodiness or emotional outbursts from their teacher.
- Good teachers are willing and able to acknowledge mistakes.
- Good teachers are able to strike a balance between being a student’s friend and maintaining an icy detachment from students.
8. Pleasure: Good teachers make learning enjoyable. They find joy in being with students and helping students learn. Good teachers bring a sense of playfulness and fun into the classroom.
Teaching is not an easy job to conquer, and I applaud the teachers who go to work every day doing their best to create a better future for our children and our nation.
© 2012 James L. Smith