Saturday, 10 December 2016

So what is a good teacher? #wfe3

This week we have been looking at what makes a good teacher.

I watched a discussion with the engaging Alex Moore on this topic.  It was enlightening.

Alex Moore talked about the process of continually becoming a good/better teacher.  This was quite liberating because it showed that becoming a better teacher was an open ended development process.  I have tried too hard at times to do more and more “righter” and “righter”, I sometimes lose the idea that there are many different good teachers, there is no one-model to aspire to.

He also spoke about prominent discourses in education, one of those was about competencies in teaching.  In Aotearoa/New Zealand we have the “Registered Teacher Criteria” that we have to present evidence that we have met each year. There are 12 of them. I was enthralled by Alex’s dissection of them, and it made me feel that they were somewhat irrelevant to the craft/art/science of teaching.  I think you could actually be a good teacher and not meet some of our criteria. I wonder if they are a political move to make us teachers “accountable” instead of being responsible.  (In a bit or reading about this week I read a quote from a Finnish education policy advisor, Pasi Sahlberg, who said the accountability was what you had left after responsibility had been eliminated.)

Alex followed onto talk about whether a good teacher can be ‘made’, that is the function of our criteria, I think.  It was interesting to him opine that competency lists could make a reluctant person become a teacher, but he felt that a good teacher cannot be “made”.  

Behind his words, and behind this week overall, is the big question: What is a good teacher?

This week’s work has led me to reaffirm the importance of networks of relationships, between teacher and learners, as being of critical importance.  In Aotearoa/New Zealand we have had a project called Te Kotahitanga (Unity) running for a number of years.  It has published a Teacher Effectiveness Profile.  With Kotahitanga’s strong access to Māori language and culture it has labelled each aspect of the profile in Māori.  The word for what I am talking about here in Māori is “manaakitanga”, the art of caring, might be a horribly loose translation, a better defeintion is caring for the pupils as people located in a culture.

Good teachers promote manaakitanga.

The quote by Pasi Sahlberg was in the Atlantic.  Retrieve it here.

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