Top 10 Qualities of Effective Teachers: #1: Vision for Achievement
Our teachers at Shady Oak are committed to effectiveness. Parents—the first and most consistent teachers their children know—can cultivate like qualities in themselves.
Mediocre teachers do everything “by the book.” Star teachers think bigger thoughts than can be contained within a book.
What do you want kids to get out of your classes? If your answer is “good grades” or even “get into college,” your vision could use some expansion. Envisioning a bright future for your students as a body is fine; but if you want to be maximally effective, you also need to consider students as individuals. What are their strengths, their passions, their personality traits, their backgrounds—and how well can you visualize these contributing to their future impact on the world?
Here are a few other ideas to make contagious “vision for achievement” a way of life in your classroom.
- Make an avocation out of learning from others. Besides attending educational workshops and training sessions, take every opportunity to meet teachers (and recent graduates) from other school systems; read educational blogs and journals; and ask anyone and everyone what they got out of school and what they found exceptional or wanting.
- Do a self-evaluation at the beginning of each term. What are your goals? What new ideas are you going to try? Where have you personally improved, and what are you going to work on?
- Repeat the self-evaluation at the end of each term. What did you find most satisfying? What ideas did or didn’t work out? What did you learn that you can implement next term?
- Help kids create visions for their own futures. At least once a term, have a vision-board session or a “Me in Twenty Years” essay assignment. Encourage kids to talk openly about where they think their lives will go. Never, ever ridicule even the most outrageous-sounding dreams—don’t even tell a child to “be reasonable” or consider “something else.”
- Encourage student input on ways your class might be improved. No, this won’t result in anarchy or obligate you to follow every suggestion. If you give every suggestion a fair hearing and use the good ones regularly, the kids will actually be more cooperative, feeling they have a say in what goes on.
- Find out if your school has an overall “mission statement” or “vision statement.” If not—or if it seems lacking—volunteer to write one, or organize a contest to create one! If there is a good mission statement in place, memorize it and use it to assist you in the next suggestion:
- Create a mission statement for your own classroom—then, instead of keeping it to yourself, hang it in a prominent spot and let kids comment on it to their hearts’ content. If you need help, a mission statement is a brief (one- to three-paragraph) summary of your top values and priorities and how they affect all the decisions you make: use any search engine to locate examples.
Remember: when you have a powerful vision for achievement, your kids will catch it. From there, it can spread to change the world.