What is “teaching”?

A brief rundown of the knowledge and skills needed for a typical day of successful teaching (and lesson/assessment planning, evaluation, etc.) c/o Mary Tedrow at Walking to School:

  •  Knowledge of the content matter
  •  Child, adolescent, and abnormal psychology
  •  English language development and second language acquisition strategies
  •  Instructional methods, strategies, and practices
  • Curriculum models and practices
  • Instructional technology practices and information technology use
  • Standards-based curriculum design
  • Content-based reading and writing strategies
  • Instructional adaptations to address students’ individual learning styles, readiness to learn, and level of independence
  • Instructional accommodations for students’ special learning needs
  • Impact of socioeconomic background, ethnicity, race, gender, language skills, disability, and other factors on teaching and learning
  • And classroom management strategies

Some of the things that teachers do:

  • Plan instruction
  • Guide students through a variety of learning experiences
  • Assess student progress
  • Analyze student learning out comes
  • Diagnose special needs, prescribe learning strategies, develop remedial plans, and adjust instruction to suit special needs
  • Reflect on practice
  • Collaborate with colleagues
  • Incorporate 21st century skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, into teacher practice.

On top of that, I’d add “conduct action research projects, collect and analyze data, use technology, stay current with new technologies.”

When I was a high school student, I thought that teachers were given lesson plans, and that little thought (or intellect) went into teaching (“you just stand up there, lecture and then go home at 3:00, right?”). It wasn’t until graduate school when I was leading a freshman writing workshop and taking a seminar on ethics in pedagogy that I realized how rigorous and interesting the job really is.

Here are a few ideas for combating some negative stereotypes about teachers:

  • Educate others about what really goes into a lesson, a unit, a semester or a year of teaching
  • Don’t wear flip flops to work
  • Stay current on research
  • Identify yourself as an “educator” (NEVER “just a teacher”)

Any other ideas?

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