Last week, allthingsLEARNing offered a bout of bloggery from guest-blogger Steve Brown (Is it all in the Genes?).
Today we have a follow-up guest-post from Cas Olivier (all the way from “Harties“, a small resort town in the North West Province of South Africa). I never actually got to Hartbeespoort on “my walkabouts” around South Africa – but now I have a reason to do so…next time.
The story of how I bumped into Cas in the blogosphere is a funny one!
About 8 months ago, I was desperately looking for some new images to “steal” for one of my own posts on “GREAT TEACHers”. Yes, I know…some of you “hate” this phrase – but, come on – who among us all does not want their students to say something like - “Tony Hocam is a GREAT TEACHer”?
…go on, tell the truth now!
Well, I was at a total loss – couldn’t find anything new to steal…sorry, “inspire” me! I had got totally fed up of using “brains” and “mirrors”!
I had lunch with my big, little girl and told her what was going on (actually, she wanted to know what all the “swearing” was about…the foul language that had been pouring out of my study all morning)!
I mentioned that I had overdone the whole “brain” thing – but I (still) liked the notion of “organic” TEACHing! She looked up and said “Dad…what about DNA – that’s cool”!
I jumped up…kissed her…and ran back to the study!
Not five minutes had passed…and the wave of obscene expletives began again – bloody Google had spat out Cas’ book The DNA of GREAT TEACHers (spat it out straight in my eye it did) and I hated him almost immediately…with a passion!
Hey, I am human – get over it! Least I’m honest…
You see…the same thing had happened to me when I “invented” (yes, I also “steal” ideas from me daughter – I am THAT daddy!) the term ASSESSment Literacy back in 2011 (I still “hate” Richard Stiggins…not really!) – LEARNing, CURRICULUM and EDUCATIONAL Literacy, however, are still “mine” (and my big, little girl had nothing to do with them…that time it was “Dexter”, my dog…who will soon have a blog)!
I calmed down…and started “stalking” Cas via his website-cum-blog – LEARNingDESIGNs – could he be my long-lost brother (my dad had spent time in Cape Town, Durban and the Free State in the late-40’s), acaba?
Cas Hocam – I know you were born in the Free State…but, when exactly WERE you born? I want a date…and a pregnancy calendar!
I fell in love with the sample chapters that Cas was so generously sharing on his blog – I liked the complex simplicity of his THUNKs…and the common sense those thunks were screaming at me!
I forgave him (!)…got in touch via mail…and, his first act of cyber friendship was to send me a copy of his book.
Paying It Forward is alive and well…in the “Harties”!
Cas and I started chatting about him doing a follow-up to Steve’s post – and although neither of us are fans of “listicles” (TY – Kevin Stein aka @kevchanwow in the big, bad Tweetiverse) he thought it might be fun…to do THREE of them…in one post!
So, over to Cas!
The DNA of GREAT teachers are described from a plethora of vantage points and they all have merit.
My vantage point is my latest book: The DNA of Great Teachers in which I use the ‘DNA-concept’ as metaphor to explain teaching paradigms and explain how teachers’ genetic teaching make-up influences their mindsets and teaching practices.
Once I started to “decode” teaching-DNA, I began to understand more and more about what made GREAT teachers so GREAT!
Let’s start with beliefs – and my first “listicle”:
The 10 Beliefs of GREAT TEACHers
- Teaching means to facilitate learning.
- Lesson planning means converting the curriculum into learning challenges.
- Their main tasks are to guide and support students.
- Are firstly followers and then leaders.
- Teaching is like developing new medicine. It must be based on patient needs and not the design preference of the manufacturer.
- The momentum of great teaching is maintained by questions asked by both themselves and the students.
- When students are not learning as expected, they change their approach.
- They cannot teach learners anything, but can make them think.
- Learning always starts from the known and progresses to the unknown.
- Lesson must cater for ‘short-legged’ and ‘long-legged’ students.
As Tony might say – have a THUNK about it.
How many of these reflect your understanding of your own DNA? How many of them are beliefs – that walk-their-talk in your classrooms? Are there any in there that you might disagree with? Why / Why not?
The second of my “listicles” is more focused on the classroom (I’m not that sure if that term is growing on me or not)!
Before you read mine…What would your own Top 10 List include?
The 10 Things That GREAT TEACHers “DO” in the Classroom
- Determine the learning status of students and then become leaders to guide their learning.
- Manage their classes through good relationships.
- Deviate from their lesson-plan to enable students to gain quick learning-wins.
- Provide learners with scaffolds to work out their own answers.
- To achieve productive silence in a class, they ask questions. To achieve productive noise give students an activity to do.
- Use at least 5 teaching methods.
- Never give answers to questions. Rather provide students with scaffolds to enable them to work out their own answers.
- Ensure learners are acknowledged and feel clever.
- Ensure students master logical, critical, creative and big picture thinking skills.
- Encourage learning risk takers to speak their minds.
How many were similar to your own listicle?
List 03 – now, this is one of my favourites.
None of us are “perfect”…we all have room to grow. But, GREAT TEACHers often take their DNA…and turn it into an “art form”:
The Top 10 Things that GREAT TEACHers “do” to Improve
- Discuss their teaching with colleagues.
- Learn from any source to improve their teaching.
- Appreciate positive and negative critique on their teaching.
- Do not take critique personally.
- Keep on looking for better ways to engage students in more creative and challenging learning.
- Open to advice.
- Willingness to change.
- Remind themselves that they should not be the main source of information during lessons.
- Keep on looking for ways students can discover and create their own answers.
- Keep abreast by reading about teaching.
Now, here’s a thunk or 2 (again, to “steal”…sorry, to be “inspired”…from Tony)!
How many of you work in schools that give you the “space” to do these things? Schools that create the conditions for “DNA mutation and adaptation” to take place – through LEARNing conversations between LEARNing teachers…
Cas Olivier – www.LearningDesigns.co.za - email@example.com