Last night I arrived back in Knoxville from a short trip to Corpus Christi, Texas for the AAAE conference. There I had the opportunity to present a poster on some of the research I have been working on concerning agritourism in Tennessee. I also had the opportunity to network with people from other universities and listen to some great speakers. During lunch, our speaker Dr. Don Johnson a professor in Agriculture Extension and Education from the University of Arkansas challenged everyone in the room with some great thoughts on teaching. He referenced Banner and Cannon's work, The Elements of Teaching (1997). For me these 7 points really hit home. As a future (I hope) professor who will teach and research at the university level, I know all too well (already) the struggles of balancing research, home life, professional development, being healthy and being a good teacher. Dr. Johnson encouraged us to remember that teaching should be our number one priority. We do the rest to compliment it. Here is a description of his modified list of things great teachers do well.
Great teachers know a lot about what they are teaching so that they can teach it well.
They themselves have a love of learning and keep learning in order to better their students.
Great teachers put student needs first and hold high academic standards for students and help them to acheive them. The teachers are seen as role models.
3. Imagination (my favorite)
Great teachers are creative and innovative. Students can have fun and learn in their classrooms.
Great teachers understand and emphathize with students. These teachers seem real and less distant to their students.
Great teachers are willing to spend time with their students. They are willing to work extra hard to find and present different approaches and they don't give up.
Great teachers enjoy being in the classroom with students. They enjoy teaching and learning and would do it even if they didn't get paid.
Great teachers see the potential in ALL students. They actively share the potential they see with a student. They can see what a student CAN be, even when the student cannot.
Great teachers remember that no one, "knows it all". They don't make students or others feel inferioir but instead remember that we're all "blockheads". "We are all ignorant. The subjects just vary." - Will Rogers via Don Johnson.
Those are a lot of things for one person to get right all the time. Teaching can sometimes be discouraging with the issues facing education, agriculture and even leadership. However, I plan to post this list in my officer to remind me what I should strive for every class as an educator. I am sure it will serve as motivation as I work toward starting a doctoral program in the fall.