I am retired now but when I was still teaching high school one of my first writing assignments each fall was asking my English classes what they were looking for in a teacher.
First I told them what I was looking for in a student. I am looking for students who enjoy reading and writing and want to take creative risks in the area of self-expression. I’m hoping the people I teach will share their ideas freely, be ready to work together, have a positive attitude and be honest about letting me know what I can do to make our classroom an interesting, rewarding place to spend time. I want my students to learn to think more keenly and critically as they read, listen and view. I want my students to learn to communicate more effectively as they write, speak and represent. I fully expect that being their guide in that process will help me learn and grow in all those areas as well.
Many encouraged me to make class interesting so they could look forward to coming. They told me I should try to be imaginative, joyful, spunky, outgoing, lively and enthusiastic. Some students felt fairness was the most important quality in a teacher, while others said they appreciated a sense of humour and an easygoing attitude. I was urged to smile, be patient and exude confidence.
I was asked to provide opportunities for all students to get equally involved in the class, no matter what their talents and abilities and some expressed the hope that I would respect everyone’s beliefs and have the ability to “think outside the box”.
I received a myriad of valuable tips! Be organized. Make assignments enjoyable. Explain things clearly. Know when to step in and when to step back. Be passionate about learning. Help students appreciate literature. Teach us some lessons we can apply outside the classroom. Be ready to give second chances. Share good advice. Reward us for participation and effort. Encourage creativity and artistry. Don’t insist things be done your way only!
Although I am no longer a teacher I think many of the pieces of advice I received from my students are helpful in other relationships as well.
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