‘Great’ Teachers

During the Autumn of 2019, staff at MACS worked together to consider what it is to be a ‘great’ teacher, and not only that, but what personifies ‘great’ teaching at MACS. What is that would run through staff like a ‘stick of rock’?

‘What makes a Great Teacher at MACS?’…

…Schools are enigmatic and complex communities, unique and similar in equal measure. Ultimately all schools aim to produce happy, confident and successful young people. While many factors differ across schools, those that are successful in achieving this aim commonly have large numbers of great teachers and staff, and the leadership at all levels to support this and to ensure even moire teachers become great. Defining ‘great’ is key in itself as it embodies all that is important and valued by a school. In order to consider this we posed a question that first appeared on Twitter some years ago from Tom Sherrington (a former Headteacher, and current education author).

In response, at MACS we believe great teachers and staff demonstrate the qualities and behaviours illustrated below:

‘What makes a Great Teacher at MACS?’ – staff INSET collaboration, September 2019

The word cloud above was the product of the dozens, if not hundreds, of suggestions of the qualities and traits that staff self reported of themselves, of each other, and of teachers of their specialism that are framed by MACS’ local context. We talked together about the very best teachers we could remember or recognise and what they ‘looked like’ in their actions or how they behaved; those staff who ever seem the optimists, that nurture relationships, enjoy their subject, and have a real integrity with what they do.

From the responses those words which appeared most often appear larger in the word cloud and there are a number that are perhaps unsurprising and key to effective teaching and learning. However, of equal importance are the ‘smaller’ words or traits that fill in the gaps of the cloud that in truth really do play a significant role in the successes we have with the young people we teach.

…Even the greatest teachers are not at their optimum day in, day out

It is tough to manage all of the above all of the time, and we aim to be supportive and acknowledge that this is not always going to be the reality every hour of every day. In general, ‘great’ teachers have routines within their core practice that are strong enough so they are never too far from a good day!

The takeaway thoughts in developing these traits or behaviour linked to effective teaching and learning practice, were to consider which of the qualities are easier to be put into action or added to our day to day practice quickly. Are there some that would need more work and effort to become habits over time? Finally if this frames our ‘Great Teachers’, what frames our ‘Great Lessons’?

That final takeaway question went on to help develop Six Principles of Teaching and Learning at MACS that inform our approach and activity around developing teaching and learning and associated CPD.

Associated further reading and references:

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