Wednesday, March 30, 2011

12 Virtues of a Good Teacher

The Twelve Virtues of A Good Teacher
(12 key virtues listed by De La Salle)

 These twelve virtues are derived from the The Conduct of Schools  written by the Founder, Saint John Baptist de la Salle.

"The Twelve Virtues of a Good Teacher by Brother Agathon, fifth Superior General of the Brothers of the Christian Schools from 1777 - 1795, incorporate virtues that are not isolated to teachers in catholic or christian schools but are universal to educators whose vocation is to instill, in students entrusted to their care, the love of learning that is essential to becoming a positive active member of the world we share.

I have been associated with Lasallian education for more than half of my life.  I graduated from a Lasallian high school and have spent the last twenty-one years teaching at a Lasallian school. 

My own commentary is how I see these twelve virtues in my life as an educator and how I try to live them out in my classroom.   

. Gravity (Seriousness)
Teachers earn respect by acting with dignity. They cultivate an assured and calming presence.

Effective teaching is about the quality of the relationship between the teacher and the student. This relationship does not begin and end with the bell. The responsibility of the teacher takes place in every action and word with students.  Be aware that in the role of teacher, the influence as a mentor is constant in everything the teacher does at all times: in the classroom, the hallway, the dining hall, the gymnasium, or out on the yard.

. Silence
The classroom atmosphere should normally be harmonious and quiet, leading to more effective teaching. The teacher will not talk too much.

The teacher understands the strength and weakness of the spoken word.  Knowing when to intercede in the process of learning, and when through silence the process of learning is enhanced.  The teacher understands when to stop talking and when to start listening.

In my classroom, the idea is to create an environment whereby the less I teach the more the students learn.  Empowering students to control and value their education.

. Humility
We are human. We make mistakes. We therefore never abuse our powers and instead make pupils feel respected.

The effective educator knows it is not about them, but about their students.  They see themselves as older siblings who mentor their students.  They share what they know but understand that they are not the focus - their students and the learning process are.

. Prudence
Teachers use their common sense, understanding what they need to do and what they need to avoid when dealing with children.

The Teacher puts into practice the very skill they hope to instill in their students - Common Sense.  The educator enacts the idea to do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do.

. Wisdom

The teacher’s knowledge and experience is applied with sound judgment. Wisdom may take time to acquire.

The Teacher remains a master of their domain by exhibiting the traits of a lifelong learner, remaining updated in the current developments and trends in their field.  Not only remaining abreast  of their content area but also those of education and the process of learning.  The educator demonstrates a passion for gaining and sharing knowledge and passes this on to the students entrusted to their care.

. Patience
The teacher who can keep cool, composed and even-tempered will be a better educator.

Not only a virtue in life, but a virtue that is natural part of the ongoing process of educating those students who are in need of guidance and understanding.  The educator must develop a thick skin in order to wade through the trials and tribulations of adolescents who have just as many difficulties with learning English, math and science as they do in dealing with their own insecurities, relationships and personal growth. The essence of this patience - is communication.

. Reserve (Self-control)
De La Salle wants teachers to control themselves and show restraint in the face of annoyance.

Knowing what to say and just as importantly when to say it, is the characteristic of the Teacher who understands reserve.  The Educator understands that communication takes many forms.  A smile can make a students day and an angry glare can set a student back.  Creating a safe environment for students enhances their ability to learn and provides greater avenues for students to explore new eperiences without the fear of failure.  

. Gentleness
Firmness and authority is tempered with kindness and courtesy such that the teacher is always approachable.

The best teaching is not formulaic; it’s personal. The educator develops an environment of trust between teacher and student where communication includes corrections and constructive criticism that are an accepted part of the learning process.  Where discipline is wielded not as a threat but as a means of maintaining an environment that meets the needs of all members of the learning community.

. Zeal
The Lasallian teacher is dedicated and committed whether it be in class preparation, correcting work, encouraging effort, supervising or coaching.

The difference between a good teacher and a great one is not expertise. It comes down to passion. Passion for the material and passion for teaching. This passion is translated to the students through each and every action, from creating and environment of learning, development and delivery of lessons, to the correction and encouragement of the students entrusted to their care.  In turn this desire becomes infectious and the passion is passed on to all members of the learning community.  

. Vigilance
The teacher is to be observant and discerning so as to promote values and prevent damage and danger. A caring teacher is vigilant.

The Educator takes on the role of older sibling, almost a guardian angel. The Teacher creates a learning environment that is safe for students physically, emotionally, socially and academically.
It is in this safe haven where the learning process can flourish and students can communicate effectively, work collaboratively and think critically.  In doing so the vigilant teacher provides an atmosphere in which each student can maximize their potential   

. Piety
The teacher, knowing each pupil is a child of God, will confide them to God’s protection while doing everything possible to prepare them for life.

This virtue is best summarized from one of Saint John Baptist de la Salle’s Meditations for the Time of Reflection,  Let it be clear then, in all your relations with students who are entrusted to you, that you look upon yourself as ministers of God, acting with love, with a sincere and true zeal, accepting with much patience the difficulties you have to suffer.”

. Generosity
This puts service before personal convenience. De La Salle wants teachers to be unselfish in their giving, always available and approachable whether in or out of the classroom.

The Teacher lives the motto “Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve.” in all aspects of their life:  working with students both in and out of the classroom, participating in the life of the school community,  and demonstrating the traits of a life long learner. The educator voluntarily sacrifices their own interests for the benefit of the student’s growth, academically, spiritually and socially to maximize their potential.

My favorite virtue is ZEAL,  there is nothing as satisfying as seeing students recognize your passion for teaching and learning.  But more importantly experiencing the infectious nature of that passion as it moves through an entire classroom.

"Nothing great in this world has ever been
accomplished without PASSION."
                                                                         ~  Hebbel   ~

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