There are a good many ideas out there about what it takes to be a good English teacher and I’d like to share some of them here.
How can anyone just point out the important factors in teaching English in just a few hundred words?
I’m not sure if this can be done as I intended it to be but I will try.
Student-centered learning is key. Many T’s are all about the TTT (teacher talking time) which should be reduced. Aim for 20%.
I+1 is also an incredibly important factor. We need to make sure all our lessons are pitched at this level.
Students work better when their affective filters are reduced. This is something teachers need to be concerned with.
Teachers also need to be sure they are empowering students. Students work better and learn more when they are empowered.
Of course, just doing the above is not enough. Lessons need to be planned appropriately. Proper scaffolding at each stage!
The stages of the lesson need to follow the correct frameworks and have the interaction appropriately planned for each section.
All the above is important but doesn’t really mean anything if we are not eliciting creativity from students, which we should do.
Let’s be clear, in the 21st century it is the responsibility of teachers of all subjects to foster creativity in all students.
But we need to be sure to consider students’ different learning styles and multiple intelligences or it will all be for naught.
Unless we create lessons that match the unique needs of all our learners we will be wasting our time and theirs.
Learners are all different. Our lessons need to match their styles and intelligences plus wants and needs and moods and more.
Learner’s needs must be considered and we must also ensure that we are developing their critical thinking skills. This is a must.
Students need to be given tools to succeed in the modern era. We should remember most of our students are digital natives.
However we do it, as teachers we need to be sure that we do and remember everything listed above and make them a priority.
I hope and believe I have offered some useful ideas and starting points here.
Though, if all the above fails you can just flip the classroom or employ gamification.
It has recently come to my attention that Maine, my favorite state, is near the bottom of all states in the US in terms of average SAT scores. Based on the 2010 scores, some have even taken to calling Maine “The Dumbest State.”
Maine is no longer at the very bottom of the list, but it is not quite time to remove the dunce cap just yet. On the 2013 SAT results, Maine was ranked 3rd from last so we can assume that Maine is now the 3rd dumbest state. Delaware is now dumbest based on the 2013 SAT scores. North Dakota is near the top (2nd immediately after Illinois). Just like Asian [sic] has a lot to learn from the Philippines about English education, Maine, Delaware and other US states have a lot to learn from North Dakota. So, what is the secret to North Dakota’s success?
When people think about North Dakota they might tend to think of a rural and sparsely populated state which produces a great deal of agricultural products. According to statistics, they’d surely be right. Despite the recent oil boom there farming is still the main industry. Something else that might not be overly surprising is North Dakota being the least visited state in the union. I can’t help but think that Maine’s attempts to paint itself as “Vacationland” and to draw in tourists is hurting students. Perhaps Maine’s students are distracted by the tales of all those from away and they cannot concentrate on their studies. I am not suggesting that Maine destroy its natural beauty, but rather just suggesting that it not focus so much on increasing tourism, which might distract students.
North Dakota is also a very religious state. In addition to having more churches per capita than other states, the Peace Garden State also has a higher percentage of church goers than any other state. This might mean that these god fearing folks put in the time to study and learn self discipline from church. Maybe their study of the Bible spills over into their study of other subjects. Perhaps Maine needs to stop importing so many godless liberals from other states and start following North Dakota’s lead.
Another example of the superlative nature of North Dakota can be seen in the fact the world’s largest hamburger was eaten there. The burger weighed 3,591 pounds and fed more than 8,000 people. This shows the coordination and collaboration required to train students for the highly competitive work environment of the 21st century. Kudos to the Roughrider state. Roger Maris would surely be proud. Maybe Maine could follow suit and could organize the world’s largest lobster sandwich or something like that. This might show Maine is committed to nurturing the talents of its youth.
Above, I have tried to point out three of the keys to North Dakota’s success in the academic arena. There are likely other possibilities and trying to isolate these is something that might warrant future research. I hope I have provided states like Maine that are lagging behind with some tangible ideas that might help alleviate their academic woes. Best of luck to Maine and all the other states which should be trying to emulate North Dakota.
Extras and notes:
- I am equally as troubled that South Korea, the nation where I reside, is similar in average TOEFL scores to North Korea.
- I mean no offense to any of the states or countries listed here
(or to the people involved in education in these places either).
- Please note I knew next to nothing about North Dakota before some googling for this post. I still don’t know much at all.
- The random North Dakota facts were from here.
- I realize this is utter bullshit, thanks.
- If you are (somehow) not convinced by my reasons for North Dakota’s dominance above and you’d like to see some thoughts on “Why the Midwest rules on the SAT” you can click here for a piece in the New York Times from 2009. You might also note that the SAT is mandatory for Maine’s high school juniors.
- I linked to it above but this article (“What Asian [sic] Can Learn From Philippines about English Education”) is crap. I was ready to ignore it because there is plenty of crap out there in this world.
The part that finally motivated me to write this post was about how it seemed lamentable that Korea scrapped its Japanese language learning in 1945 as though there were no other possible reasons than folly for this decision.
- I don’t wish to gloss over the real education issues that might be facing the great state of Maine or other states.
- I am very pleased with the lack of Fargo, or “Fargo Rock City” references here.
Good for me.
- I am also happy with myself for making a late decision not to try to equate North Dakota’s status of being ranked as the worst state for women to its high test scores.
- This image has been flowing around the internets. It is most excellent.
(It might be from here originally)