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.