I tend to be a bit arrogant.
No, no, don’t be hesitant, tell me.
I do not suffer fools gladly. I am happy to help anyone overcome a problem, but if I give someone an answer, I expect them to remember the solution. I don’t like repeating the whole thing again, and certainly not for a third time.
Except with the kids.
I’ve found that I can repeat myself almost ad infinitum with my pupils. If they’ve got a problem, I’ll try again and again to explain it in different terms and examples. I very rarely show any annoyance (one exception was one nice but slow lad, who had to have the concept of a formula in a spreadsheet explained about 11 times. I did sigh in exasperation on the 12th request, and immediately felt guilty. It wasn’t the kid’s fault, I obviously hadn’t explained it adequately.
But am I a good teacher?
I don’t know.
According to Anne Tolley, a good teacher is one who gets good results in NCEA .
But what about B**, the nice but slow student in my 11 Computing class. He tries really hard, he doesn’t really muck about (no more than any other 15-year-old. If you think “yeah, right”, can you remember what you were like at 15? I know that I wagged off a couple of hours to play snooker when I was 15, plus nipping behind the cycle sheds for a quick, guilty, superbly satisfying cigarette.
B** will succeed, but it will take him longer than the norm. Every kid is an individual, who need individual approaches and learning plans. Will they achieve more than they would do without me?
I don’t know.
I hope so.
I hope that I make a difference, but I cannot really prove it.
I remember a few years ago, an American research institute put some indestructible computers in some extremely deprived areas in a major Indian city. No instruction manual, just a touch sensitive screen. Within 6 months most of the kids who were using it were literate, some were een programming the computer, so by their methodology, no teachers were needed.
Teachers get continuously observed, by our students, and occasionally by our peers. But it is difficult to get accurate feedback, so we don’t really know if we’re a good teacher, an indifferent teacher or a completely useless bastard.
I enjoy teaching, I enjoy getting to know the kids, but I DON”T KNOW IF I’M ANY GOOD.
Have a nice day.