What makes a leading teacher? The current thinking of educators focuses on seven key characteristics. They are as follows:
1. Create an atmosphere, environment, and attitude of learning.
2. Establish a reason to learn
3. Teach students to learn
4. Inspire students to achieve
5. Establish responsibility for learning
6. Continually check learning achievements
7. Celebrate the new learning
While educators and politicians strive to instill these attributes in teachers and pre-service teachers by offering salary increases for continuing education as incentives and threatening jobs for teachers whose students fail to meet standardized test targets, perhaps we should consider the possibility that improving the quality of education is our past. It used to be that teachers could teach. They had goals and objectives to meet, but they were not forced to read a curriculum guide that did not allow for any spontaneity or creativity. Young children used to learn by exploring their environment. Today, kindergarteners sit at a desk and fill out worksheets all day. When they can’t sit still for long periods between recesses, they get into trouble.
The following story is a personal reflection on what it was like growing up in a home where our mother was a teacher, and how her expert modeling inspired my younger brother, Robert Meehan, to become a teacher as well.
An elementary kindergarten classroom has a certain smell. Some kind of white paste, pencil wood, book glue smell that makes you want to learn something. My mother’s kindergarten classroom had that magical smell, along with the sound of a productive beehive and the warm feeling of acceptance, but that was just the beginning, just the stage where the magician put on her show.
My mom was a brilliant kindergarten teacher. The word “kindergarten” literally means “kindergarten” in German, and my mother was like a gardener who provided only the richest soil to cultivate for her students. She nurtured the seedlings until their young roots took deep root, providing a solid foundation for future growth.
Watching my mom work in her classroom was like a sailor on a ship watching the captain and realizing that he is looking at his own future. Thereafter, the sailor moves through life with a focused purpose: to become a teacher in his chosen vocation; grow and learn, and become like the admired captain. My mom was my captain and I was her sailor.
The 13th century German legend of the Pied Piper of Hameln is one of “Grimm”, in fact, about a vengeful wizard who lures hundreds of children to their death with the song of a siren in his pipe. My mother was like a charitable version of the Piper of tradition. She used her experience in playing the piano as a tool to help her kindergarten students learn. Like the Pied Piper of Hameln, he could play a little song on his piano, and his twenty-five young companions, as if delighted, followed the call, moving in unison: sometimes to the ABC carpet to sit in a circle, waiting for his next direction, sometimes to his next core activity: the playhouse, the blocks, or the sand and the water table, and sometimes to work on math, handwriting, or reading; your movement guided by the notes. His students quickly learned to love music, to love learning, and also to love their teacher.
At least twice a year I would sit in an engrossed audience watching their classes perform wildly fun and complex musicals in which all the children had a role. My mom would sit as an accompanist in front of her piano next to the stage, and perhaps with a nod or a raise of an eyebrow at her students, she would begin to play and her students would begin to sing. . They sang with all their hearts. Parents took pictures, chuckled, and sometimes pointed or waved at their children. But most of all they were simply beaming with pride, grinning from ear to ear as they watched their kindergartener flourish on stage.
My mom choreographed special moments like this for many kindergarteners and their parents. He directed and accompanied at least two major kindergarten musicals each school year, for both morning and afternoon classes, for 26 years. Parents should be very grateful when they meet a teacher like my mom.
He also loved Winnie-the-Pooh; Anything to do with Winnie-the-Pooh! His room was adorned with large portraits of Christopher Robin and Eeyore, Tigger and Rabbit, Piglet and Owl, Kanga and Roo, but most of all … of course, Winnie-the-Pooh!
His students would write letters to Pooh, sing songs about Pooh, and practice writing POOH with his 6-year-old handwriting. My mom even dressed up as Winnie-the-Pooh for Halloween. He loved the sheer childlike innocence and sheer sense of wonder expressed by the beloved characters of AA Milne. She worked very hard to create that same warm and welcoming classroom environment for her kindergarten students every year.
However, as much as he loved Winnie-the-Pooh, he loved his students more. She loved children and most of all she loved watching them learn and grow. His instinct for affection has always been very strong. For a time, when I was in my 20s and 30s, my mother even took in foster babies to give them the love and care they needed before they were provided with a permanent home. He loved those babies as he loved his own.
It has been several decades since I watched my mother cultivate her students’ love of learning using the Winnie-the-Pooh characters and playing those seductive melodies on her piano that led children to learn like the Pied Piper. The deckhand has been a captain for most of 25 years, and after all those years of working with hundreds of wonderful teachers in numerous school buildings, I have never met another such loving, talented teacher. , as welcoming, or as magical as my mother: the cultivator teacher of the kindergarten, the kindergarten. I feel very fortunate to have spent time on your ship.
The American school system is drowning in a sea of bureaucracy. All science points to the importance of hands-on learning and learning in a natural setting, yet the political movement is unsurprisingly geared toward fiscal prosperity under the guise of a plan to create expert teachers.
The following are the federal regulations for highly qualified teachers that apply to K-12 public school teachers of core academic subjects. To be considered highly qualified, a teacher must meet the following three requirements:
- Have at least a bachelor’s degree. The degree must be obtained from an accredited institution of higher education.
- Get full state certification, either through a traditional or alternative route. Teachers who are exempted from emergency, temporary, or provisional licensing or certification requirements are not considered highly qualified.
- Demonstrate competence in the subject in each of the academic subjects taught. Competency can be demonstrated in various ways depending on whether the teachers are new to the profession, experienced teachers, or special education or rural teachers.
Nowhere in the provision does the federal government require the critical affective qualities of a teacher teacher. Qualities like being friendly and personable, having good interpersonal skills, being a good communicator, and being a good listener make the difference between a teacher who can connect with students and one who cannot connect with them. Students who connect learn. Students who don’t, don’t learn.
The keys to fixing the American educational system are not a mystery. They simply challenge the current status quo. Like my brother, I too am very grateful to have had the opportunity to be raised by the best teacher. Congratulations to all the teachers who have influenced my life.