Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How to be a Good Teacher

1. Know your subject matter, but never be content with what you know.
2. Speak clearly; avoid stutter phrases.
3. Develop a rich and interesting vocabulary.
4. Listen to student's questions; answer; then ask if the answer was helpful. The last step is crucial.
5. Be jealous that the classroom be a sanctuary for learning.
6. Do not copy what the rest of culture is doing. The classroom should be different. Be a thermostat not a thermometer. (Thanks to Neil Postman for this.)
7. Do not be afraid of silence--either in your teaching or for the students.
8. Pray before class, either to yourself or publicly, given the situation. I usually emphasize God as "the Spirit of Truth" (John 14:26).
9. Improvise within a thoughtful form.
10. Do not let any student monopolize discussion. This can be awkward to correct, but it must be done. One say is to say "let's hear from some students who don't normally speak up."
11. Don't assume that students need to be entertained.
12. Dare to think on your feet. I have learned much while teaching.
13. Do not be afraid to admit your ignorance in class.
14. Always teach with a purpose. Make sure the students know this, either explicitly or implicitly.
15. Refer often to books, thus challenging students to become more literate. Sometimes as how many students have read a classic book. If no one has, call them ignoramuses.
16. When students make little sense while asking a question or making a comment, try to get their point by asking questions. If this fails, re-frame the comment to make some sense. No one should be humiliated in a class.
17. If the setting allows, pray with the class concerning particular needs as they come up in the lecture, discussion.
18. Refer often to Scripture, by quoting, alluding, or paraphrasing.
19. Do not let humor detract from learning, but use it to enhance learning. See A.W. Tozer's classic short essay, "The Use and Abuse of Humor."
20. Dress in such as way as to not draw attention to yourself, either by being too causal or too dressy. By all means, do not try to be sexy.

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