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Thread: Master Teachers

  1. #1
    Senior Member Works's Avatar
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    Default Master Teachers

    What makes a great teacher in your opinion? What were your great teachers like and what were their types? As a young teacher, I'm interested to hear input from a variety of types of learners.

    One of my best teachers was an ENTJ. He was my journalism teacher and more or less a hardass. He was demanding and a lot of people didn't like his style of teaching. Some people didn't get his sarcasm or his sense of humor, but I appreciated it. I even got to hear the guy curse a few times when things with the newspaper weren't going well. (He was usually cursing at the computer.) Still, I learned more about writing from him than any other person. He has since moved into the role as athletic director which is a pity, because he was a great teacher to have in the classroom. We're still in touch and he still provides good advice about teaching.

  2. #2
    Blah Orangey's Avatar
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    One of the best teachers I've ever had was my college German professor, whom I believe (in retrospect) to be an ENTP. We were a small class and she was the type that liked to push people out of their comfort zones. She would speak directly at us in very fast German (with her Romanian accent on top of it) and thoroughly expect us to understand and respond coherently- and by mid-semester all of us could. She never held our hands. However, IMO, her most effective method (for me at least) was the way she tied language-learning in with other subjects in a greater context. It just made learning the language seem so much more interesting, and it motivated me beyond the simple pull of "I've got to pass". Most language teachers (in the early level classes, at least) only extend that as far as "well, if you're ever in Germany or Austria, knowing how to say this or that will help you out". She trusted our intelligence enough to expect high performance on difficult readings from classic works of philosophy and literature even though we were only in the intermediate level. I appreciated having (for once) standards that were not geared to the dumbest in the room.
    Artes, Scientia, Veritasiness

  3. #3
    Just a statistic rhinosaur's Avatar
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    I actually had the pleasure to experience a great teacher in a great class last semester. The class was arguably one of the hardest in the department: Symmetry and spectroscopy of inorganic molecules. The topic itself is moderately difficult, and this teacher was pretty hardcore. We covered more material than any other course, at a faster pace than any other course I'd ever had before.

    Although some of these methods wouldn't work anywhere but the cutthroat no-bullshit arenas of graduate school, I really admired his approach, and thrived in this environment.

    Here's what he did:
    • He listened to us and would repeat things in different ways if it was obvious we didn't quite understand the material.
    • He would always answer your questions and was very open, both in sharing the information he knew and in his schedule.
    • He went straight through the text, start to finish, in the order it was presented (he actually wrote the text, which I'm sure helped).
    • His powerpoint slides were designed to complement the text. They explained certain things in more detail and other things in less detail. He kept these updated according to our progress, and would fix mistakes as he found them. He also provided on the website every relevant piece of information that was presented to us.
    • The problems were taken directly from the chemical literature. Almost all of them were all real-world problems that were a good example of how the material we were learning could be applied. He made it clear that working the problems was mandatory, but he was quite flexible when it came to grading them, and would simply give you either zero, half, or full credit for each problem.
    • The tests were always easier than the problems, but not too easy. They were quite fair, and always took into consideration the amount of time we were given.
    • He expected us to keep up. About every other Thursday, we presented our work to the class. This encouraged people to study frequently, and discouraged procrastination. It also provided an opportunity for him to correct your work, for the benefit of the entire class (who might have all made the same mistakes as you).


    Near the end of the semester, he commented to us and some other teachers that we were the best class he'd ever taught. This wasn't totally subjective, either: our grades the highest he'd ever seen for this course, and we had covered more material than any other class before us.

    Here's what we did
    • We asked questions when we didn't understand something. I'm sure this was difficult for some people, because he has a naturally intimidating character.
    • We studied our asses off. I filled many whiteboards and chalkboards working out the problems, and accumulated stacks upon stacks of notes. I remember studying on the top floor of a parking deck at midnight, while I watched a thunderstorm pass. All this work, and I still fell behind in comparison to some of the other students.

  4. #4
    Free-Rangin' Librarian Jae Rae's Avatar
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    Good post, Orangey.

    I think the best teachers show us something important about Life, not just the subject in question. By example, they show a love of learning, courage in overcoming obstacles or some other important quality. Think back on your best teachers - they all convey their humanity in a significant way. IOW, they act as strong role models, not just as journalism or German teachers, but as responsible and admirable adults. I've noticed this in my own teachers and in my kids' teachers as well. The ones who just try to be nice to the kids or act as their friends are often the most ineffective. The ones who hold the bar high and expect a lot are the ones the kids respect, emulate and love.

    My daughter's Latin teacher, one of the hardest at her school, had very high standards, and a strict schedule of testing, homework and projects; my daughter did her work and learned a lot of Latin; she also loves this teacher, as do many other kids. She made the class fun with jokes (in Latin), stories and costumes, but she expected the kids to work and wasn't afraid to tell some of them, including mine, they had to work harder or they wouldn't learn Latin, which is a difficult language. She didn't set out to win their affection, she set out to teach them Latin.
    Proud Female Rider in Maverick's Bike Club.

  5. #5
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    I have a lot of nerdy philosophies on this but at the moment I'm in the mood to just gush, if you don't mind. I just attended my daughter's class open house tonight and I am simply giddy about her teacher this year. Here are a few highlights from what he has said about how the year will go:

    • Every year he gets an old dryer off Freecycle or Craigslist and brings it to school. He and the kids take it apart to see how it works, fix whatever might be wrong with it, put it back together, and sell it to raise money for field trips.
    • Last year his class started carving a wooden canoe but didn't finish it. This year the class will finish it and the families of his classes from this year and last year will go to the Eno one Saturday to try it out.
    • He wants all of the parents to come in if the want and share what they know and love with the class. Noah is going to take in a computer, take it apart, and let the kids help him put it back together. He also wants to lead a quick & dirty D&D thingie and "accidentally" teach them about probability and suchlike. I am going in closer to the end of the year to give them some Super Sekrat Test-Taking Tips.
    • Every three weeks they will walk to the public library. He took the kids there last week and all of the ones who didn't already have library cards of their own got applications. (That included Thing 1 since we live in another town.) Some of the kids don't live where the school is so he worked it out with the library for them to get cards that will expire in 1 year.
    • There are two ball pythons in the classroom. To touch a snake, a student must answer 3 science questions about snakes. To hold a snake, a student must answer 5.


    What I like so much about him is that the kids are learning and they don't even know it. This is something only a very gifted teacher can do, IMO.
    The one who buggers a fire burns his penis
    -anonymous graffiti in the basilica at Pompeii

  6. #6
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jae Rae View Post
    I think the best teachers show us something important about Life, not just the subject in question. By example, they show a love of learning, courage in overcoming obstacles or some other important quality. Think back on your best teachers - they all convey their humanity in a significant way. IOW, they act as strong role models, not just as journalism or German teachers, but as responsible and admirable adults. I've noticed this in my own teachers and in my kids' teachers as well. The ones who just try to be nice to the kids or act as their friends are often the most ineffective. The ones who hold the bar high and expect a lot are the ones the kids respect, emulate and love.

    My daughter's Latin teacher, one of the hardest at her school, had very high standards, and a strict schedule of testing, homework and projects; my daughter did her work and learned a lot of Latin; she also loves this teacher, as do many other kids. She made the class fun with jokes (in Latin), stories and costumes, but she expected the kids to work and wasn't afraid to tell some of them, including mine, they had to work harder or they wouldn't learn Latin, which is a difficult language. She didn't set out to win their affection, she set out to teach them Latin.
    This is very true.

    The best teachers encourage self respect rather than self esteem

    Self esteem depends on the opinions of others, while self respect is based on achievement.

    Veni - Vidi - Vici.

  7. #7
    Free-Rangin' Librarian Jae Rae's Avatar
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    I'd like to write a tribute to a teacher from my daughter's school who died last Saturday at age 28. She was on a Fulbright in the Phillippines when she had a heart attack. By all accounts she was healthy, enthusiastic about life, etc. We knew her because she was a Global Studies teacher in the International Baccalaureate program. My daughter didn't have her, but a friend did, and she was one of those master teachers we've been talking about - someone who taught well and was loved and respected in return.
    Proud Female Rider in Maverick's Bike Club.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Littlelostnf's Avatar
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    What's interesting is that they have the title (in my school) of Master Teacher and unless my students gave me the name it wouldn't mean a thing to me. I would consider a master teacher an instructor who inspired a love of learning....strived to get to know each students strengths and allowed them to build on them...and loved to learn themselves and never stopped showing that they thirst for more. Students need to see that a teacher doesn't know everything but is willing to learn.
    for my life is slowed up by thought and the need to understand what I am living.

  9. #9
    Striving for balance Little Linguist's Avatar
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    Being a teacher myself, I am probably too biased to give an objective argument.
    If you are interested in language, words, linguistics, or foreign languages, check out my blog and read, post, and/or share.

  10. #10
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    My best English teacher ever was an ENTJ.

    My most favorite college professor seems to be an INTP.
    I am an ENTJ. I hate political correctness but love smart people ^_^

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