What Is Good Teaching?

After completing my bachelor’s degree in Information Systems, and having the opportunity to meet many professors in different areas of technology, I realized it was just one of them who made an impact in my career. For some reason, I felt a special connection with my Systems Analysis and Designs professor. As soon as he introduced himself to the class and told his story, I said to myself: “If he is able to do this, so can I!”

Although it was his first year teaching at a university, he was able to connect with the students and teach us he was equal to all of us, but had to work hard to accomplish his goals. He tended to offer one-on-one meetings to the class, in order to ensure we grasped the main concept of the lessons and final project. During weekends, he joined us in the lab to assist with group projects and always made himself available providing feedback and answering questions and concerns. In short, he established a one of a kind relationship with us, he helped the students in the class feel comfortable and capable to accomplish the course’s goals, which ultimately led to the class’s success. His subliminal goal for every class was to make students understand the point of the lesson or topic, rather than memorizing verbatim the information; to associate our experiences and share with the class.  That’s why he took extra time to devote it to those that seek for the fundamentals to build understanding. Then it was up to us to dig deeper based on our own passion for a given topic.

 

For that reason, I believe good teaching starts with building a good relationship with our students. I think it is extremely important to know students at different levels not only academically but socially and personally. However, I don’t intend to say that the content knowledge of a teacher is not important, but as candidate teachers, if we don’t start by knowing the students and learn to establish rapport we will not get anywhere. As a student, I value a teacher who has the ability to speak to me about life outside of school. While trying to accomplish our master’s degree, most of us have a full-time job with many responsibilities, such as family and debts but are still trying to earn a degree in order to open doors to new opportunities and have better quality of life. Summarily, all it takes is to say:  “How was your weekend?” to help students feel relaxed and engaged during class.  

In my opinion, good teaching is a quality that a teacher possesses, therefore, my definition of good teaching does not apply to all teachers for the reason that not all teachers have the ability to establish a personal or social relationship with their students. Based on my experiences, some teachers focus more on textbooks, assessments and curriculum achievement rather than understanding how the student operates and how to create an impact using specific words and techniques in order to reach students. All teachers are capable to practice good teaching. We can attempt to know students better to find creative ways to customize the curriculum according to their needs. Making students feel comfortable, not afraid to ask questions, enforcing the classroom rules positively, using appropriate language, and individualizing instruction are just some of the things I believe can be defined as good teaching.

In addition, positive words are powerful when it comes to impacting student’s performance. Telling the student directly that they have the ability to do well, monitoring ourselves to ensure we are creating equitable discussions to allow all students participate, not only the high-achieving students, but also the students who have a pattern of not performing well will encourage their success.  Overall, I think a good relationship with our students is a requirement for teaching and learning. It can have a dramatic impact on the student’s academic performance and can help teachers design better curriculum and achieve specific and desired results.

 

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