As 2010 comes to a close, many of us are reflecting on our accomplishments – and things we’d like to do better in 2011. In education, teachers are doing this same kind of reflection. What is it, though, that makes teachers “accomplished?” Is it earning National Board Certification? Being nominated for a teaching-award? Meeting President Obama?
To answer this question, I decided to ask my 11th grade students. As a mentor teacher for a local university’s teacher-training program, I host interns and student teachers throughout each school year. As part of a farewell assignment to my latest intern, I asked students to write her a letter that explains what makes an “accomplished” teacher. Below are snippets from the mouths of my babes:
“Accomplished teachers know their stuff. I recommend you teach something kids can relate to or they’ll fall asleep. If you’re boring, they’ll fall asleep too.”
“Being an accomplished teacher is all about the connection you have with students. If we can’t relate to you – we’ll ignore you. Fun assignments help.”
“Accomplished teachers are ones who don’t talk about how horrible their job is like my Social Studies teacher does. Oh – and don’t check Facebook all the time like my Math teacher does. I mean, how can you expect US to want to be in school if you’re always wanting to be somewhere else?”
“Accomplished teaching is about being relaxed, but strict at the same time. If you can juxtapose these two concepts – you’ll be able to avoid operating in survival mode as a new teacher. (Side note: we studied “juxtaposition” in class last week, lol).”
“School is not always about the work. To be accomplished, teachers should help students become better people in general and find ways to challenge them – on a personal level.”
It’s interesting that none of my students identified my brilliant units on Shakespeare and Flannery O’Connor as making me accomplished. My state and district testing wasn’t mentioned either. Maybe they’re on to something about what “it” is that makes teachers accomplished.
What do you think makes an accomplished teacher?