When asking students to identify their teaching hero, certain things becomes very clear. Students are in a strong position to tell the sector what it takes to be an excellent teacher – and it’s not about making things easy or being entertaining, or giving learners shortcuts to the outcomes they seek. Quite the opposite: it’s about creating learning environments in which students gain the courage and the grit to do things they sometimes they would never be capable of. It’s about helping students to step up, to power through, to give it their all.
Students have singled out eight operational themes that seem to underpin their experience of excellence and impact in teaching. These characteristics have been identified directly through an analysis of hundreds of testimonials gathered as part of the awards process.
Outstanding teachers bring the gift of attention, focus and engagement to their students’ experiences.
Again and again students talk about their most impactful teachers as those who have inspired them in all sorts of ways.
Simple vigilance and a willingness to support students really makes a fundamental difference to our learners’ experiences and the quality of their education.
A passion for their academic subject seems to transmit in powerful ways from teachers to students. That’s what our students experience.
A key characteristic that students associate with teaching excellence is captured in the word amazing. It might sound like hyperbole, but on examination, this recurring concept is linked with some wonderful things in teaching contexts: creativity, innovation, instilling the sense of wonder and of curiosity in the learning process.
Listing skills, noticing and responding to students successes and failures – this seems to define something very important about the greatest teachers and those that we celebrate.
The theme of encouragement is one that permeates so very many of the testimonials of teaching excellence. There is something about their best teachers that give students courage, that helps them keep going when the going gets tough. Encouragement is at the heart of great teaching.
8. Creative Communication
The theme of creative communication echoes through student testimonials. Teachers who know how to reach, talk to, guide and explain, often use creative content and creative processes and these are the things that learners derive wonderful benefit from.
What it takes to be a Teaching Hero in 2016?
What does it take to be a Teaching Hero?
Some findings from Teaching Heroes 2014
Teaching Heroes – Accounts of their Personal and Professional Approaches to Teaching