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An Exceptional Teacher…

She was my favorite teacher “Ms. SantaMaria” and there are pictures of her with me throughout my elementary years. What made Ms. SantaMaria so special was the connection she made with the students in our class. We knew she cared for us and we were inspired by her courage especially after she told us she was battling cancer and would have to wear a wig for sometime.

As a young adult I would think of her strength and character when I encountered difficult situations in my life. She was inspirational. As an educator the idea of being inspirational is something I try to embody in my teaching practice. Yesterday I had the opportunity to hear my students share personal examples of good teaching. There were many similar characteristics that emerged from the discussion.

Good Teachers:

* Content matter experts

* Motivates students to do their best

* Uses a variety of approaches to engage students

* Understand students needs

* Challenge students thinking

* Set goals and clear objectives

* Make learning enjoyable & interesting

* Share personal stories

* Clear and consistent communication

* Scaffold instruction

* Supportive and knows students individually

* Makes connections to personal lives

* Breaks down difficult content

* Available beyond school bell

* Show they care.

Each student shared their personal story from early elementary to college. Consistently the emotional connection they had with the teacher was central to the relationship. The more the students felt cared for and supported the more likely they were to take risk, make an effort to do well, persist in class and believe in themselves.

At the end of the day the most important thing to our students is not how well they do on an exam, but that they are cared for and supported by their teacher.

How do you show your students you care for them?


About Dr. Dickenson

I am an assistant professor of Teacher Education at National University in San Jose.


2 thoughts on “An Exceptional Teacher…

  1. As a substitute teacher I make sure that I don’t judge the students. They don’t know me and I don’t know them. Usually, I substitute for the same teacher throughout the year and can develop a good teacher-student relationship with the students. I show the students I care by listening to what they may have to say and let them know that I am always available to help, even after the day ends. Substitute teachers that are interested in teaching and not just baby-sitting have to be patient, willing to take an interest in the students, and teach the curriculum left by the regular teacher. In the future, I will have my own classroom and students. I will be looking for good substitute teachers who will take an interest in my students and interested in making sure my classroom is still a learning environment, even when I am absent.


    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Eric Givens | September 15, 2015, 1:30 am
    • Hi Eric,
      One thing you said that really struck me was “I care by listening” I feel like so many problems in the classroom and in our personal relationships can be resolved by active listening. In today’s fast paced world it is easy to get swept up in the go-go-go mentality. It sounds like you are present for your students and that certainly takes someone who truly cares. When I started teaching my neighbor gave me a clock and it said “Give students the most precious gift, your time”. It was hard for me to focus on the students and not the next thing I had to do on my agenda, but once I started to be present for my students many of the behavior problems I was having in class disappeared.

      Thanks for enlightening us with this great point!
      Dr Dickenson


      Posted by Dr. Dickenson | September 15, 2015, 4:41 pm

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