I’m a BIG Tour de France fan. I don’t ride, but the pain the riders put themselves through day after day as they climb up the alps appeals to the runner in me. There is something inspiring about watching a rider turn themselves inside out, pushing themselves into the ‘red’ to finish a stage. The great commentators on the tour say to win the tour a rider has to be great at all three disciplines: climbing, descending, and time trials. In order to wear the yellow jersey you have to show you are skilled at all three places, if you’re good at only one you may win a stage or rack up big points but you won’t win it all.
This got me thinking about teaching, lord knows we turn ourselves inside out at times and put ourselves through pain in an effort to work with all the students in our class 🙂 I wonder what the 3 disciplines of teaching would be to make a great teacher? There are lots that would never make the top three but are still important in some way. I was all ready to make a joke about grading as a key discipline but then I thought about a teacher who is terrible at grading, perhaps it is never timely or it’s not accurate. In that case, it seems like grading is an important skill, but certainly not a top three. What about classroom management? While I agree it’s important, I don’t think it makes the top three. Maybe these skill would equate to being able to switch gears on a bike or knowing the technique in riding a certain way; both important items to master but they don’t make the top of the list, they are more skills that help a rider to be successful in the three key disciplines. I haven’t given it tons of thought but I think the following would make my top three:
Communication: You could be brilliant, but you if you aren’t able to convey that to your students you’re sunk.
Mastery: Regardless if you teach one prep or self contained there is a level of proficiency that all teachers need in order help guide their learners. I was going to call this one ‘content mastery’ but I think leaving it at just ‘mastery’ allows pedagogy or teaching mastery to be part of this as well.
Relationship Building: If you’re students know you don’t care, they won’t either. If your colleagues know you don’t care, you cease to be part of the team. Rarely does anything good comes out of isolation when we talk about teaching and learning.
Just my quick list, wonder if I give it more thought how much that would change.