“We’re in danger of trying to institutionalize one or two things that made one or two teachers great and then trying to force other teachers to do those things,” says Elden. There isn’t just one way to be an excellent teacher.
A great teacher, says Elden, “is adequate at everything, good at the things that affect their instruction, great at things that only they can be great at.”
Adequate at doing required paperwork, attending professional development and not making enemies among the staff
Good at classroom management, grading, getting students feedback for their work and planning lessons
Great at some type of spark that belongs to you, your special unique gift, whether it’s your passion for your subject, your innovative lessons, your inspirational leadership, your sense of humor, your ability to listen, your meticulous attention to detail. Not all of these. One or two of these.
Finally, teachers need “sustainable working conditions,” says Elden.
“Make sure we have copiers that work. Make sure our internet connection doesn’t crash. Have a plan for the kid who’s acting out and out of control. If you don’t do those things, if you focus your effort over and over on reminding me that nothing should get in my way and there are no excuses…that’s not helping students.
“Teacher working conditions are the same thing as student learning conditions,” says Elden.