WHAT SEPARATES THE BEST TEACHERS FROM THE REST
By Coach Lorne McAlister
I can easily remember that grade eight English class at Strathearn Junior High School in Edmonton. We could write about anything we wanted to for this assignment. I wrote about noses. I was always growing a fresh crop of pimples on my proboscis and that added mass to the mountain of flesh already generously protruded from my face. When the teacher handed back the corrected paper she choose to read three of them to the class. I was shocked, proud, and honored that she found value in the paragraphs that I strung together on what was a painful zone in my life. That was over fifty years ago, but I can still feel the thrill and chill as I listened to my great eighth grade English teacher read my essay on noses.
Certain behaviors separate top performing educators from everyone else. They’ve proven to be the same behaviors across ages, gender, geography, topic and anything else the researchers could imagine.
PRAISE VERSUS PUNISHMENT
One of the vital behaviors consists of the use of praise versus the use of punishment. Top performers reward positive performance far more frequently than their counterparts. Bottom performers quickly become discouraged and mutter things such as “Didn’t I just teach you that two minutes ago?” The best consistently reinforce even moderately good performance and learning flourishes.
TEACH - TEST AND TWEAK.
Another vital behavior of top performing teachers is that they rapidly alternate between teaching and testing. Then, when required, they make immediate correction. Poor performers drone on for a long time and then let the students struggle, often leaving students to repeat the same errors. Top performers teach - test and then tweak the lesson.
Top performing teachers know these two Laws of the Learner.
- I haven’t taught it until the student has caught it.
- How my students learns determines how I teach.
Best-practice research confirms that top performers do these two things: they praise instead of punish: they teach - test and then tweak.