What makes a good teacher? 

Above all a good teacher likes to learn. We often teach best, not what we already know, but what we want to learn. A love of learning is a precious gift to give our boys. A good teacher practices the skills involved in the craft of teaching and the importance of good discipline. We are all of us individuals and have our own personal style, but there are classroom management skills that have universal validity, that will not cramp your style, but allow learning to happen.

Our own Managing Learner Behaviour [MLB] system is there to support you in the classroom to make things easier for you – please refer to it and make use of it especially with regards to positive reinforcement.

Good classroom management eliminates confrontation and conflict and fosters good relationships and effective learning. Without order, every lesson will be a battle. Boys will behave as badly as we let them and will then dislike us for it and hate the disruptive classroom conditions they have helped create. At College, YOU are in charge.

What characterises a teacher who keeps good order and discipline?

  • Boys will say things like : ‘She/he means what she/he says”; “She/he doesn’t let us muck around”; ‘She/he knows what she/he is doing”; ‘If you work hard he/she will help you’ etc.
  • Believe it or not, boys appreciate a classroom that is controlled, organised, has rules and keeps to time. Boys like to know the rules, the boundaries and the consequences if they do something wrong. They also want consistency and fairness.
  • Be demanding and make your expectations clear in all regards ie behaviour, standard of work and homework. You will get what you settle for so set your standards as high as possible. They will strive to get there if you support them. Set a good example by keeping your voice calm and making positive comments. Avoid sarcasm at all cost and comparing boys with others or their brothers or fathers or grandfathers. They resent such comments. If you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to apologise and move on. Your apology sincerely made will help in your relationship with them – positive role modelling.

As control improves, paradoxically you can pay less attention to it and enjoy teaching more. Good relationships in a classroom are not only an ingredient of successful classroom management, but also to a considerable degree they are the result.
50 of you are mentors and when you add the housemasters and assistant housemasters, there are 70 of you who are working on relationships with our boys particularly through our mentoring programme. Those of you who have been in the system for three years now will know those boys pretty well I would think and each year you have an addition of only five new boys. A reminder that they may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel in your relationship with them.
Maintain your standards outside of the classroom as well be that in a sports team, cultural activity and/or duty. Do not ignore boys misbehaving as they might be in the next class that you have to teach or supervise. They will remember that you didn’t care enough to take action.

You open the door to knowledge, teach skills, makes things clear, enable boys to do more and do it better, to understand more and understand better. You have the potential to influence the direction of a whole life.
I firmly believe that it is our role of teachers to help boys feel good about themselves, because every boy is special and unique, and we should celebrate their uniqueness with them and help them to realise their own particular talents.

Finally, a quote by William Arthur Ward which sums up the challenge that we have
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. “

That is my challenge to you this year – INSPIRE YOUR BOYS

What an extremely honourable, privileged, powerful and potentially rewarding challenge that is!

Thank you for what you have done for so many boys over a number of years and the impact that you have had on them to date. I wish you all a very inspiring and rewarding 2017.
Pro Aris et Focis

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