October 22, 2015
How to be an awesome teacher
The first year that I started teaching, at a private college, I remember overhearing two students who were discussing an awesome teacher. I was naturally curious to know what made this teacher so awesome in the eyes of these students, and I overheard the answer, "She doesn't make you do anything!"
Hopefully they were talking about a teacher elsewhere, like at their old high school, because the awesome teachers where I worked didn't make the students do nothing. They demanded a lot, they motivated. And that was the kind of awesome teacher that I wanted to be.
I modeled my personal teaching style after motivational speakers. It was an art school after all, and the classes were divided into 1/3 lecture and 2/3rds computer lab. That meant that I had to present a project that was so interesting, and so compelling, that the students were absolutely thrilled to get into the lab and get busy. I had to express enthusiasm for the software, which wasn't difficult, because I really like Adobe software.
I also worked hard to make the grading system as simple and straight-forward as possible. If you've ever heard a teacher say that "life isn't fair" after some unfair thing has happened in their class, you've seen someone who has made a mistake. Schools are supposed to be fair. My classes were as fair as I could make them. If someone thought that I had written a question on a test in a confusing way, I threw it out. No trick questions, no vague grading systems.
Being an awesome teacher takes a lot of self-confidence. Going out in front of a group of mostly sleep-deprived people in a classroom who would really rather be elsewhere, can be daunting. But if you want to be an awesome teacher, go for it. And remember to smile!
Posted by Brad Hall