Monday, March 8, 2010

The Art of Teaching

I read a recent article today that analyzed some of the new data emerging about what it means to be a good teacher. You can read the article at

This article quickly became a talking point around our conference table in the teachers office. What does it mean to be a good teacher? What do we as teachers know about educating students that the general public does not? How do we continue to improve our practice? With these questions swirling, and our own successes and failures being reflected upon, I came up with my own Top Ten Teacher Rules. This is a very short list of some of the things I believe are important to make my classroom the best it can be.

Top Ten Teacher Rules:

1. Know every student's name and use them frequently- in the classroom, in the hallways, in the lunch room, anywhere you see your students.
Let's face it- not knowing someone's name or calling someone by the wrong name comes across as rude and uncaring. Get to know your students, get to know their nicknames, and always greet them when you see them.

2. Use a timer
Nothing will derail a lesson faster than getting off track. I use a timer for all activities in which the students are working somewhat independently ( and yes, I teach high school). They may get 2-3 minutes for a warm-up, 10 minutes for some key questions, 30 minutes for a group activity. By using a timer (I project mine on the wall), it keeps me and the students on task.

3. Keep activities 20-30 minutes in length
Kids don't have long attention spans- enough said.

4. Move, move, move around the room
Physical proximity is a great classroom management tool. It also allows me to quickly interact with students about their work in a private way, and to give lots of pats on the backs for good work.

5. Assign seats and change them randomly
Who are students going to sit by if given the choice? Their friends (Duh, right?). While this can be good, it is also a major cause of distraction. I always assign seats, even in my high school honors classes. As I get to know my students, I frequently rearrange seats to put students near other students I feel they will work well with. Note- I do NOT put them next to people they will best socialize with.

Rules 6-10 coming soon....stay tuned!

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