The following article is taken from the “Specialists in Scientific Education Ltd”
I am sharing this because it embodies everything I try to be for my students and their parents. If I weren’t homeschooling my own, it would be everything I would want to know about the abilities of the teacher that would be teaching my children.
“Trinidad & Tobago’s system of lessons outside school means that parents and guardians have to develop a good system for spotting effective teachers from as early as 6 years old for their children. A favoured way is to ask a friend and go with that teacher. Another way is to use a combination of research findings available on the Internet and local knowledge. Start with this:
1. Do you feel comfortable with the person? This is a matter of intuition which may take only seconds to decide or a decision that is made after at least an hour of talking at a consultation. It is important because you have to trust this person with your child. Does the person understand your concerns? Does s/he even try to find out what they are? Did they ask what challenges your child has in learning and adjusting to school? This shows a student-centred approach to teaching. Will it be easy to contact the person to find out about what is happening to the student? Can you trust the replies you will get, particularly when the student has performance problems?
2. Is the teacher very clear about the discipline required of students attending the class? Is the teacher equitable, consistent and firm? This means transparent discipline measures and expectations of students applied equally to all. Are they thoroughly discussed at the first meeting, are they clearly displayed in the classroom or in writing that you can take home? Some parents are put off by someone who is very clear from the beginning about this. They really prefer not to discuss it or for the teacher to be permissive. Particularly with the level of indiscipline in schools it is very important that the student has a structured environment in which to concentrate. This is essential to obtaining the most benefit from the lessons. Do you feel comfortable with the level of discipline expected of you and the student? Are you and the teacher on the same page about that?
3. Is the teacher oganised? Has planned the work such that it goes from what the student knows to what the student does not know? Will the syllabus be completed with time left over for revision and practice with past papers? Is the emphasis on thorough mastery of concepts rather than cramming for tests?
4. Is the teacher willing to challenge his/her students? The student may not appreciate the questions which test understanding rather just straight regurgitation of facts. This is where you are most likely to get complaints about the teacher. “I don’t understand”. A quiet chat with the teacher is called for. Clarify the situation. Ask questions rather than just repeat what you have been told.
5. Does the teacher have a thorough understanding of the content of the syllabus and able to communicate in a variety of ways, using clear examples? An essential requirement for all the levels is the ability to use the principles and concepts of the subject and apply them to situations in the Caribbean.
6. Appreciates that learning is a process not a one time event. This means that it could be one step forward and 0.9 back so is willing to patiently work with the student using various methods until learning occurs. Praises effort rather than grades. Telling a student s/he is smart can stop the student trying because smart people do not have to work hard.
7. Believes that achievement depends more on intrinsic motivation than extrinsic. If the student wants to achieve a goal s/he can with effort. The teacher is willing to go the distance to ensure that the student attains the best that they can in the subject. Even in the face of opposition from the student. The teacher has little regard for the student’s approval.
8. Runs an effective classroom: i) clear rules, ii) clear instructional rules for assessment and assignments, iii)clear times for break and study, for example bathroom visits and talking to each other only during breaks, iv)learning is student centred, each student given a chance to contribute, ask and answer questions, v)learning is varied, e.g. notes written on the board after discussion with students, students writing their own notes, presenting to the teacher, ICT where appropriate vi) learning related to life in the Caribbean, Trinidad & Tobago
9. Flexibility. The syllabus must be covered but the teacher will not just rush through to finish it. Will use as many methods as needed for as long as needed to help the student master a difficult topic. Will schedule extra time as needed to assist the student.
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