Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Master Teacher Hype

Buzz word of the day: "Master Teacher

  • What would be a fair definition of that term? 
  • Who decides what a "master teacher" is?
  • Are you born a master teacher or is it something that can be achieved?
  •  How does one know if they are making progress in becoming one? 
  • Should master teachers make more money than others?
  • Should we accept anything other than a "master teacher" to teach our children?
  • What makes Finland's teachers Master Teachers?
  • How can teachers be trained to be Master Teachers?
  • Can the definition of Master Teacher change?
  • How many master teachers should be on staff at a school?
  • How many master teachers should a student have during the day?
  • Are we pigeon-holing a teacher with a label that can't be changed?
When the term "Master Teacher" is said, I get defensive. I wonder if I am considered to be one or even if it is possible for me to be one in the discipline that I teach...and now that I just co-teach, could it even be a label for an "out of the classroom" teacher? So I ruminate on the term a lot. I research it, I dwell on it. I want to understand it. What I have found is that the definition isn't set in stone. My favorite snippet on it comes from this blog: http://connectedprincipals.com/archives/1929 but I still wonder if it can really be identified easily and if boxes can be checked off and a label set: "Mr. Jones is a Master Teacher." It's been a while since I read the blog, so I am just going to "word vomit" what I think a "Master Teacher" should look like at a Christian school:

  1. Master teachers are ones that seek to teach the person, not the student. A master teacher knows their pupils because that is a priority to the teacher. This teacher gets to know their student through dialogue, watching them with their peers, listening to them speak, and "seeing" not just "watching" what makes this student want to be a learner. Master teachers can envision their student as an adult, or if they teach adults, as a degree holder. This teacher knows their students strengths and weaknesses and how it will effect them if things do or do not change in their lives.
  2. Master teachers look for ways to teach more than the curriculum. These teachers strive to help their students learn themselves through encouragement, pushing, and questioning. A master teacher sees the whole child not just a "subject matter" student in a desk. 
  3. Master teachers are champions for their students but are also fans of the schools where they work. They like being where they are, they add to the positive environment of the school culture. They follow their leaders and lead their followers in a positive manner. 
  4. Master teachers should teach everything from a Christian worldview. The answer shouldn't be "because I said so," but "because this is what the bible says and it is our ultimate guidebook." This doesn't mean that the teacher is close-minded and closed off to those that question Christian doctrine, it means that they lead, direct, listen, and acknowledge not as a Pharisee but in a loving, accepting, but firm Christ-centered culture. A master teacher looks for ways to weave the bigger picture into their daily lessons.
  5. Master teachers aren't afraid of change, nor are they accepting of change "just because." A master teacher should be a lifelong learner that is always looking for ways to make the learning experience in their classroom better. A master teacher should never feel like they have "arrived."
  6. Master teachers feel passionate about what they teach. They enjoy their curriculum. These teachers have a fire for their curriculum that is contagious and makes their pupils want to learn more. A master teachers ultimate goal is to ignite the desire for more learning in their pupils. 
  7. Master teachers try to meet the needs of every student in their classroom. This teacher wants what is best for each student- the easy and the hard ones. A master teacher looks for ways to build confidence in EACH student in the classroom.
  8. A master teacher is a good communicator. This teacher is not in a silo all day long, they are reaching out to fellow teachers, locally and internationally. They are reaching out to the lonely child and the disruptive child. They are reaching out to parents for updates. They are reaching out to administration to seek ways for improvement. A master teacher does not fear communicating with others.
  9. A master teacher assumes the best of his student until proven otherwise. This teacher starts with a culture of trust- that the pupil wants to and can learn. This teacher encourages their students to reach their full potential. This teacher helps their pupils to see what their potential is. A master teacher is compassionate.
  10. A master teacher is respectful of their coworkers, students, and administration. This teacher earns the respect of others through a safe environment. This teacher respects the needs of the student and realizes their ultimate goal is to have successful students.