Excellent teaching is, to me, an endeavor requiring finesse, wisdom, and skill along with deep empathy for students. An excellent teacher provides a blend of knowledge, clarity, depth, resources, and entertainment. An excellent teacher creates and implements a learning environment filled with insight, inspiration, hope, and chain reactions of spontaneous understanding that integrate smoothly with other domains of knowledge. In addition, an excellent teacher trains students in critical thinking, examining the assumptions and presuppositions of knowledge, the metacognitive aspects of knowledge, different modes of knowing, and the foundations and nature of knowledge itself. Of course, this includes the ability to reframe knowledge to fit the multiple perspectives of diversity, including the contexts of race, multiculturalism, gender, LGBTQ, ability, and age.
An excellent teacher tempers knowledge with humor, and infuses humor into the curriculum so as to lighten the load of learning, that then inspires an increase in the capacity to absorb additional knowledge. Consequently, this leads to further inquiry and often an insatiable curiosity and interest in a subject. An excellent teacher can effectively teach as students go through fits of laughter, streams of tears, and moments of wonder, culminating not only in greater understanding but enhanced wisdom as well—for there is a distinct difference between wisdom and intelligence. An excellent teacher can also impart skills to students for their use in actual practice. An excellent teach can demonstrate those skills on demand in the classroom, through role plays, enacted scenarios, fish bowls, videos, and clear descriptions and examples.
An excellent teacher understands that knowledge can be transformative, and is at its most powerful when enhanced by accurate metaphors and reframes. Knowledge is especially powerful when it is embedded in moving stories that provoke feelings, stimulate insights, and have deep meaning and wide ranging implications. An excellent teacher is, therefore, an excellent story teller, possessed of a fine sense of timing, pace, and accentuation. An excellent teacher also has a great appreciation of irony, paradox, mystery, subtlety, and ambiguity, and can use these to inspire curiosity and interest, and take learners to a deeper level of learning. An excellent teacher can make the complex seem simple and the simple seem profound. And finally, when appropriate, an excellent teacher is a myth buster as well.
I strive to become an excellent teacher.