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Terrific teachers


Ivan Holmes August 7th, 2013

After reading the commentary by John Thompson in the July 17 Oklahoma Gazette on using student test scores for teacher evaluations (”Avoiding a fiasco in education”), it reminded me of an article I wrote several years ago on, “What is a master teacher?” I explained that a master teacher:

—Makes students his or her top priority;
—Has the ability to stimulate students;
—Consistently looks for and brings to the classroom current and stimulating material;
—Works with students outside the classroom on projects that give students a practical application for the subject;
—Keeps up with his or her field of expertise;
—Has the ability to see individual differences in students;
—Has the ability to get students to ask challenging questions;
—Has enthusiasm for what he or she is teaching;
—Really does care about his or her students, and
—Has the ability to teach students how to think and problem-solve.

The problem(s) we face today is how we can find ways to make classroom teaching important once again in society. Until we find a way to recognize and reward great teachers and make it as vital in our society as coaching a championship sports team, we’re never going to solve our problems in education. We also have to do a better job of training our future teachers. Until our universities make training teachers a top priority, we’re never going to have enough master teachers.

Some say there is no real way to evaluate how effective teachers are in a classroom. I don’t agree. Having spent 35 years in the classroom at the high school, junior college, college and university levels, I can walk in a classroom and tell in a short period of time whether or not a teacher is a master teacher.

It is not the building or even the equipment — although both are important — that makes the educational system work. It is the master teacher.

—Ivan Holmes, Oklahoma City


Holmes is a past regent and commissioner to the Education Commission of the States under former Gov. David Boren.


 
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