These 2 free tools will make you a better and more efficient teacher, tutor and educator

What makes a great teacher?

Well, I would say that there is just one way to tell, and that is:  look at the results of his or her students.

And it's not the results of the "best" students, no.

It is the overall results.

 

Any student willing to learn will run into obstacles.  And the great teacher will find ways to help overcome those obstacles, as much as possible.

But how much is possible?

The uncomfortable truth is that you as a teacher, are being held back.

If you had unlimited time and resources, you would be able to help any student reach their maximum potential.

But in reality, just because how the system is set up, there are a number of real difficulties:

The group average problem

First, if you work with a class, you are bound to a "group" setting.  There is no choice for you - you have to address the needs of everyone, which means in fact that you have to select some kind of "average" goal for your class.

This, in itself, will hurt most students.  If this sounds harsh, it is.  But I really believe this.  It has nothing to do with how caring you are and how well you teach the material.  It is just plain math - most students are either above the average, or below the average.

The student above the average is being held back.  Even without realizing it.  If they do great in the lesson, in their homework, in their exams - it only means they could be reaching higher.  Pause to think about this for a minute.  Think of your excellent students - why shouldn't they be even more advanced?

The student below the average is trying to survive.  And yes, they realize it every day.  They may be able to go very far, but once they are stuck as the class moves on, they require "special" assistance, and feel they do not have what it takes.  When, in fact, you believe they do.  If you had the time and resources to get that student "unstuck", he or she will have a real sense of achievement.

The re-inventing problem

How do people really learn?

They do that by spending probably around 90% of their time on practice.  Practice does make perfect, as the saying goes.  It is not enough to just get an explanation.  It is only through solving problems and working through the material that true learning occurs.

So as a teacher, you are required all the time to come up with ever more practice material - for class work, for homework, for quizzes and exams and on and on.

I call this "re-inventing", because you need to do this again and again, class after class, year after year.  And so, as time goes on, hundreds, thousands, even more practice material get created, and then is archived and lost somewhere.

A teacher may have found wonderful practice material, or even invented it, only to do that again the next time.  And on top of that, these materials are almost never shared with other teachers, so everyone needs to re-invent, over and over.

So in reality, there is so much great material for you to use, but it is just unavailable.  Think what would happen if you had unlimited access to an unlimited number of practice problems for your students, that never runs out.  This would, in my opinion, put an end to the re-inventing problem, and free you up to do what's important, which is to focus on creating real progress for your students.