Dr. Todd Whitaker of Indiana State University is delivering our Thursday keynote address. In his talk, he poses the following question:
What are the specific qualities and practices of great teachers that elevate them above the rest?
Dr. Whitaker identifies what the most effective teachers do differently than their less-effective colleagues. The goal is for participants to walk out knowing what great teachers do differently; why these things make them more effective; and learn how to immediately implement each of these into their own classrooms and schools.
A key discrepancy Dr. Whitaker makes early on is that to find the most effective things great teachers do is to differentiate between what they do and what ineffective teachers do. If we only look at great teachers and schools, it’s hard to determine what’s being done right. Unless we know both what great and not-so-great teachers do differently, it’s hard to determine what we should do to be the most effective teachers we can be.
A major issue is that people have no idea how they come across. Dr. Whitaker points out that the issue is not what teachers do; it’s how well they do it. For example, he asked the audience what’s wrong with the phrase “poor classroom lecturer”. Dr. Whitaker helped the group out by limiting the choices to “poor” and “lecturer”. Because we’re eMINTS educators who believe in inquiry and less-traditional forms of teaching, we identified “lecturer” as the problem. As Dr. Whitaker points out that the real problem is that these teachers do it poorly.
Check out what the audience had to say. Some of the quotes are particularly juicy.
The talk is inspiring as Dr. Whitaker identifies the characteristics that great teachers have. Ironically, the things that make a teacher great are similar to the things that make people successful in the rest of life. Dr. Whitaker’s books and talks are highly recommended.
To continue following the discussions happening at the eMINTS Conference, check in with this blog or follow the hashtag #eC12 on Twitter.