Over the past 30 years, the world of education has changed in many ways and continues to move with the times. An increasing reliance on technology coupled with the sheer amount of information and resources available to a 21st century teacher is enough to overwhelm even the most proficient professional.
However, there are several long-established standards that still ring true to this day. For example, the 1987 publication “Seven Principles For Good Practice in Undergraduate Education” by Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson remains incredibly pertinent and prevalent.
Based on this publication, here are 7 practices of an excellent teacher.
- Ongoing communication
Students are bound to feel more comfortable and eager to learn if their teacher makes ongoing efforts to interact with them. From allowing questions at any time in the classroom to keeping your door open during lunch, it’s incredibly important to be approachable and allow for two-way communication.
- Encourages teamwork
It is understandable that certain students will feel a little uneasy about speaking or opening up in front of the entire classroom. However, they may be more willing to express themselves in smaller groups, where collaboration is much easier and the basic principles of teamwork can flourish.
- Supports active learning
According to Chickering and Gamson, teaching is much more effective if students can “talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences and apply it to their daily lives”. This is possible by using structured exercises, challenging discussions, team projects, and peer critiques.
- Provides feedback
“Students need help in assessing existing knowledge and competences” say Chickering and Gamson. “Students need frequent opportunities to perform and receive suggestions for improvement”. This requires the provision of prompt feedback, so that students can be encouraged by their progress and stay on the right track.
- Emphasise time on task
Time management is a crucial skill for teachers and students alike. With the establishment of deadlines, students will soon learn that its possible to work smarter instead of harder, making any teaching much more effective in the process.
- Communicates high expectations
As Chickering and Gamson explain: “High expectations are important for everyone – for the poorly prepared, for those unwilling to exert themselves, and for the bright and well motivated. Expecting students to perform well becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when teachers and institutions hold high expectations of themselves and make extra efforts”.
- Respects diversity
No two students are ever the same and you can’t expect your teaching methods to work for everyone. But different talents and styles of learning should be celebrated rather than chastised. The very best teachers will allow students to showcase their talents and learn in ways that work for them.
While all of these practices can help anyone to become a better teacher, the most important factor is that improvement should be a shared responsibility. Both student and teacher must positively contribute towards the educational experience for the benefit of everyone.