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Who is a Teacher? Essay

In the early years of school we are asked to participate in “Show and Tell.” Some people dread the experience, some people like it so much they spend the rest of their life looking for things they can share with others. When the Show and Tell bug has bitten the young person the student may become a teacher. There are many good teachers we meet in life; a few of us take it up as a profession. Why are some people like this? The best of teachers simply enjoy the service: Knowing that one has contributed to the growth of others is an end in itself. I suspect that excellent teachers are also driven by the pursuit of knowledge as an end in itself. They just want to know why things happen and are often willing to go to extraordinary lengths to get the best information available. Teachers are enthusiastic about their topic and delight in sharing what they have learned. Sometimes it seems that they can go on forever about their specialty while denying the idea that they are an “expert.”

Good teachers will tell you they are students, not teachers. These two qualities are the primary and distinguishing characteristics of a teacher: Love of knowledge and a love of contributing to the development of others. At times the primary characteristics become contaminated by other drives and needs such as the need for status, authority, exhibitionism and any of many human needs that make us less than who we want to be. Excellent teachers learn to control these needs and to keep them out of the teaching arena as much as possible. Some teachers are better at this than others and they are better or worse teachers because of their abilities to control the extraneous (non-teaching) factors. Contrary to many opinions, I do not believe that a teacher is necessarily the most skilled at their subject matter. For example, one of the things I enjoy in life is playing pocket billiards and I have noticed that while world champions write books about their sport, they often cannot pass on the “how” and the “why” of some particular esoteric point. They know how they train and they think this is the best way for everyone to train.

The best billiards teacher I have found is not a world champion. His “hobby” is a billiards school in Chicago and champions go to him to refine their skills. This teacher is an extremely astute observer, he is articulate, highly knowledgeable and of course he is an excellent player but not a champion. You see he spends too much time doing what he loves most, helping others become champions. One of the jokes we play on children is to tell them they must hold their mouth in the right way to drive a nail with a hammer. Champions often do this, albeit unintentionally. They know what works for them but they often cannot explain it. In addition, champions are usually involved in their own selfadvancement (as they should be) and do not often have the enthusiasm for helping others learn. That is a different drive. As a university professor I am always on the look out for people who will make excellent teachers. I pull some students aside and ask them if they have thought about a teaching career.

The people I talk with are excellent students of the material (they love it). They are also enthusiastic about the material and like to share (not show off) what they have learned. One of the signs of a good teacher, and I have had students go on to become excellent teachers, is their initial response, “Oh, I am not good enough to teach. Who would want to listen to me?” There is a true humbleness and often these future teachers must be encouraged and given experiences that show that others want to listen to them. It may sound funny but most good teachers are amazed at first that others want to listen to what they have to say. The little (in their perception) knowledge they have acquired goes a long way because of the way they present it. The right attitudes and being one step beyond the students are the ingredients for a good teacher. I like to think that I am a good teacher and I tell my students that a teacher is nothing more than the senior student in the room.

Our crowning achievement is when our students go beyond us and push the edge of knowledge and ability one step further. If you think about it, none of us like the authority figure with bombastic statements, a show off attitude, and the “I am better than you,” or “Why did you ask such a stupid question?” approach. What we like, and when we learn, is when the teacher appreciates us, finds ways to encourage us, and shows enthusiasm for the material that catches a fire in us that drives us to learn more, be more, and develop better skills. Good teachers sometimes work in gas stations; law offices; hospitals; sports arenas; and some are in schools of various types. It is not where a teacher is located; it is their approach to the topic. They find out how the rest of us can become an expert and they love to see us go beyond their knowledge. When you find a good one you can go far. Good teachers take a candle flame of interest and build it into a bonfire of desire. With a little luck and motivated perseverance the student becomes a flaming star on the horizon that is the goal of a teacher.

Want to see how it’s done? Perhaps you are a much better teacher than you think. Select a person who wants to know about something that you have learned and something that you are enthusiastic about. Remember that you need to be only a step or two ahead of your “student.” Consider and write down the most important aspects of the topic to be taught. Maybe you need notes, but probably not as it is something you know and your student does not know. Nonetheless, you will need a plan for presenting the material in a manner that can be easily grasped. Above all, don’t write it all down, just the notes that list the most important ideas that you “must” cover if the student is to know as much as you know. Go to your student and show them what you have found. Your outline will fall apart because your first concern is to listen to their questions and present answers that are meaningful to the student. Your only concern is their concerns, what will help them learn more.

While you are doing this you try to keep coming back to your outline, as these are the things that you know the student needs to know. When your focus is on the student, their questions, their ideas, and their problems you are teaching. No matter what your student says, find something right in their statement or question. Use their comments as the beginning of what will interest and motivate the student to learn more. Use the student’s interest to take them further and as a vehicle that helps you return to your outline and the things they need to know. One of the things that you will find is that your student will lead you to the areas that should have been included in your talk. The student’s questions will drive you to learn how to answer student questions the next time you teach.

After the teaching is done you will want to revise your outline and you will want to find better answers for those questions, comments, and problems. In this way the teacher is the student and the student helps us to become better teachers Try it, if you like it, you too may be a teacher in the making. A good teacher loves knowledge and loves learning how to communicate that knowledge in ways that motivate others to learn. All of us are good at some things and not good at others and so teaching can be one of those skills that you may or may not have. You will never know until you try. It may or may not be a skill you will want to improve. For those of us who like to teach, the rewards cannot be compared to anything else and it becomes a profession, a way of life, and indeed part of the definition of what life is about the pursuit of truth in service to others. Who is a teacher?

“Sir, what do you mean by a teacher?” “Good question, my child,” John Dewey had said. “A teacher is a social servant.” And Gandhiji had left this quotation, “A teacher is a good friend who prevents his friends from shedding tears.” Again, someone has said that a teacher is a nation builder. My teachers taught me that a teacher is a social animator. A teacher means many things. Look at the blooming flowers, always colorful and spreading the fragrance of sweetness – a teacher does the same. Or look at the bees, always working cooperatively with zeal and enthusiasm, or the brooks flowing towards their goal unhindered by the obstacles on the way. Don’t teachers do the same? If you think that a teacher is like the sun, it is true.

The sun gives warmth and light, so does the teacher. Even if you think that a teacher is like the moon, it is true for a teacher can be cool and calm even in the hours of darkness and trouble. Now let us think of a mountain. Shall we take Jomo Lhari as an example or would you want to choose Kula Gangri? Let us look at both. They have been there since the time immemorial, and yet, they have never shrunk, nor have they changed with the changing of seasons. So are the teachers, faithful and strong as they are.

A teacher is also like a wise farmer. The field may be hard and infertile, but he ploughs, tills and manures it before sowing seeds. He prepares the soil and selects and sows appropriate seeds so that they grow well and bear good fruits. You do naughty things at times, don’t you? Your parents scold you and they even beat you, yet they still love you so dearly. A teacher does the same. The only difference is that your parents bring you up and the teacher educates you. That is equally important and equally challenging. “Then, Sir, a teacher’s life is so tough, no Sir?”

“Yes, but it is also beautiful if all the students were good like you.”


How do YOU define “assessment?”

The term “assessment” may be defined in multiple ways by different individuals or institutions, perhaps with different goals. Here is a sampling of the definitions you will see: Mirriam-Webster Dictionary Definition of Assessment: The action or an instance of assessing, appraisal Definition of assess: 1: to determine the rate or amount of (as a tax)2 a: to impose (as a tax) according to an established rate b: to subject to a tax, charge, or levy3: to make an official valuation of (property) for the purposes of taxation4: to determine the importance, size, or value of 5: to charge (a player or team) with a foul or penalty Palomba, C.A. & Banta, T.W. Assessment Essentials: Planning, Implementing, and Improving Assessment in Higher Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999, p. 4 “Assessment is the systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving learning and development.

The Higher Learning Commission defines assessment of student learning in the following way: “Assessment of student learning is a participatory, iterative process that: Provides data/information you need on your students’ learning . Engages you and others in analyzing and using this data/information to confirm and improve teaching and learning Produces evidence that students are learning the outcomes you intended Guides you in making educational and institutional improvements Evaluates whether changes made improve/impact student learning, and documents the learning and your efforts.”

University of Oregon, Teaching Effectiveness Program

“We define assessment as follows:

Assessment is the process of gathering and discussing information from multiple and diverse sources in order to develop a deep understanding of what students know, understand, and can do with their knowledge as a result of their educational experiences; the process culminates when assessment results are used to improve subsequent learning. ”

Formative and Summative Assessment “

Assessment can be done at various times throughout a program and a comprehensive assessment plan will include formative and summative assessment. The point at which the assessment occurs in a program distinguishes these two categories of assessment.

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is often done at the beginning or during a program, thus providing the opportunity for immediate evidence for student learning in a particular course or at a particular point in a program. Classroom assessment is one of the most common formative assessment techniques. The purpose of this technique is to improve quality of student learning and should not be evaluative or involve grading students. This can also lead to curricular modifications when specific courses have not met the student learning outcomes.

Classroom assessment can also provide important program information when multiple sections of a course are taught because it enables programs to examine if the learning goals and objectives are met in all sections of the course. It also can improve instructional quality by engaging the faculty in the design and practice of the course goals and objectives and the course impact on the program.

Summative Assessment

Summative assessment is comprehensive in nature, provides accountability and is used to check the level of learning at the end of the program. For example, if upon completion of a program students will have the knowledge to pass an accreditation test, taking the test would be summative in nature since it is based on the cumulative learning experience. Program goals and objectives often reflect the cumulative nature of the learning that takes place in a program. Thus the program would conduct summative assessment at the end of the program to ensure students have met the program goals and objectives. Attention should be given to using various methods and measures in order to have a comprehensive plan.

Ultimately, the foundation for an assessment plan is to collect summative assessment data and this type of data can stand-alone. Formative assessment data, however, can contribute to a comprehensive assessment plan by enabling faculty to identify particular points in a program to assess learning (i.e., entry into a program, before or after an internship experience, impact of specific courses, etc.) and monitor the progress being made towards achieving learning outcomes. What are some examples of formative assessment?

* Classroom Assessment Techniques (e.g., muddiest point, minute paper, memory matrix)
* Homework exercises
* Discussion responses
* Journal Entries
* Pretests
most formative assessments are designed for timely feedback so as to “tweak” the teaching/learning environment for the better, before the end of a class What are some examples of summative assessment?

* Exams
* Papers
* Journals (when completed for a course)
* Lab write-ups
Both formative and summative assessment are interconnected – an instructor typically will use both types of assessment to gauge learning during and after a class

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