By Gustavo Ramirez, Guidance Counselor / Education Consultant
Who are good educators/teachers? They do exist and always “stand out” from others. They can take over any classroom, no matter how out-of-control, disrespectful, or otherwise the students may be. These educators/teachers get students under control, quiet, and working within minutes. How do they do it? First and foremost, they accept that teaching is not simply a set of technical skills for imparting knowledge to students, but also a moral undertaking. They also understand/use and constantly reinforce and reenergize their solid classroom management skills.
These educators/teachers make every effort to promote thinking and reasoning in their students instead of teaching (like robots) by rote learning or forced memorization. They regularly design, administer, and carefully review assessments (tests) to see if students are learning, not to rank by grades or to blame students who “fail”. Good educators/teachers accept that there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” classroom. They do not see themselves as inspectors on an assembly line (school) whose job it is to pull out all the “bad ones” (difficult students) who do not fit. These educators do NOT keep complaining about students with such negative thoughts or comments like: “Why can’t our students be like how we were when we went to school, or were their ages?”
Above all, good educators/teachers realize and accept that there are a variety of ways in which young people (all of us) learn -- not everyone learns in the same way. Consequently, these educators make every effort to work daily with classrooms and classrooms of young people as “individual students”, not as assembly line “everyone must be the same (or else)”. These educators have an almost magical presence about them that signals to students: no “business as usual” while I am here. The teachers do NOT scream and holler in the classroom, yet, their students sit up straighter, listen intently, and show a level of respect that new and veteran teachers envy. This powerful presence comes from the force of someone who cares whether a student learns or not. The positive personality, attitude, or state of mind in these educators encourages each student everyday to try to do his/her best. Most importantly, these educators do not need forceful or military type personalities. They know that constant criticism does not motivate a student to change -- instilling positive beliefs and setting a good example will!
Good educators/teachers know how to get students to try their best in class:
They take full responsibility. No matter where or what they teach, under what conditions, or who the students are, these teachers take full responsibility for everything that happens in their classrooms. Even if a hurricane hits the classroom unannounced they do not offer excuses for themselves or their students; consequently they feel empowered each day to transform lives, set hearts afire for learning, and inspire students to the highest mountaintops.
They have unshakable confidence. They plan each lesson diligently, try to learn from their mistakes, and have/practice effective classroom management skills. Thoughts of failure, defeat, or uncertainty never enter these teachers’ minds. They have confidence in their ability to manage student behavior; and it manifests itself in everything they do. It is seen everyday in the way they move, speak, teach, and relate to students. This confidence encourages students to trust them and want to learn!
They believe in their students. These remarkably effective educators/teachers, truly believe in their students, and encourage each student to want to learn, and overcome rough circumstances, rise above difficulties at home/school, and confront whatever obstacle may be distracting them. Believing in each student is a core part of who these educators are. They will smile more often with students and the trust is seen in their eyes. For them to ever think otherwise is simply unthinkable.
They know their students will behave. Teachers who struggle with classroom management often feel as if they’re one SECOND away from losing control of their class. From Monday to Friday, they pray and hope each morning that their students will behave for the day. On the other hand, good teachers understand and use classroom management effectively; they do not hope. They use solid classroom management plans that work! Their minds are set -- no matter what comes up, or how many interruptions come their way in the classroom, their students will behave. As far as these educators are concerned, that’s just the way it’s going to be.
New/veteran teachers must understand that educators who practice successful classroom management are not lucky. They do not need nor have special personalities. They can be just starting out (early in their career) or especially experienced; however, they don’t depend on a booming voice for students to respect them. These educators/teachers can be short, tall, reserved, or outgoing. They are “good” and have successful classroom management skills because they believe in themselves. Let us start thinking like the successful educators/teachers we want to become. Let’s do it!
These articles are in no way, whatsoever, intended to be comprehensive or complete. They are written and contributed in an effort to provide a "starting point" for valuable (and intriguing) discussion. Why discuss/ review students' learning capabilities and our current methods of trying to educate them? Educators, students, parents, and our community can learn from one another. I have the greatest respect and admiration for all educators, especially in Belize!