In our third installment of “Stages of Teaching,” this post examines an important achievement every hardworking teacher aims for. What defines “mastery?” Is it grades? Perhaps it is student reviews? Is it about you feeling comfortable at where you are at? Now that you’ve switched out of “Survival Mode,” you’ve probably realized that you have discovered your rhythm. Your rhythm comprises of (1) yourself (2) class management, and (3) teaching. But in order to make an impact you need to add a fourth element: (4) application. We will discuss the 4th point in a future post.
- Yourself – What does it mean to become a master of yourself? In a nutshell, there are two components that require your attention. First, you must be a master of your vision. No matter what, a teacher must keep their vision in focus. For example, is not my goal to teach students about Islam. Instead, I strive to help design each students’ narrative guided by Islamic principles through meaningful application and introspection. In writing, this vision is very nebulous. However, to sum it up, I want students to find a voice in their existence and from what they see around. I don’t want them to reconstruct a narrative from a different time period. I want them to deal with the issues that they see around them using timeless sacred principles. More importantly, I want them to apply themselves and create a story for themselves that will inspire others. What is your vision? Second, no teacher is a master if they stop growing. To achieve this, each teacher must identify their weaknesses and actively strive to improve those areas. All teachers should continuously learn, struggle and broaden their intellectual foundations to prevent stagnation. I would suggest classes, health training, and spiritual development.
Class Management – To be a master teacher, you must also master your classroom. You must have procedures, routines, rules, discipline policies and other strategies to make sure that you spend your time teaching and less time on administrative duties or controlling your students. I strongly suggest you to read Robert Marzano’s book, “Classroom Management that Works.” In it, the author details many effective strategies that help streamline your classroom and make it an effective learning environment for students.
Teaching – When I started teaching, I relied heavily on reading the text with the students. Homework and classwork revolved around senseless and dry questions from the chapter review sections. However, as time went on, I started incorporating other techniques where students are put in charge of learning. Some of those activities included News Reporting, Carousel Learning, Peer Teaching, and creative projects to tap into each student’s creativity and curiosity. Some senior teachers will tell you to settle on a few ways of teaching and switch through them. I agree with this technique in theory, however, inasmuch as a teacher continues to find newer ways to improve their current “teaching arsenal strategies.” Depending on the grade level that you teach, you want to continuously update your teaching strategies to keep up with various learning trends. I advise you to read up Doug Lemov’s “Teach like a Champion.”
In short, these three areas are not easy to master. Each area requires years upon years of practice and dedication. While it’s important to master these three areas, no teacher should stop here. A true master never stops where they are at. Instead, they strive to make a lasting impact. That is the true challenge.