Monday, June 09, 2014

Top Ten Traits of Highly Effective Instructors

For at least a year now, this quote has been at the bottom of all of my emails -

"More importantly, highly effective instructors know that if they cannot be more dynamic, more dazzling, more interactive & more interesting than that electronic gizmo in their student's hand, they have no business being in front of them in the first place."                                                                                                          
                         -- Mike Lanouette

In preparing a Keynote for a class at the NWSC this week called Making Social Media Work For You, I came across Dr. Lanouette's Top Ten Traits of Highly Effective Instructors.

For the record, here they are:

1.  Mobile

When I first saw this trait, I was excited.  Great, I thought, a highly effective teacher is using their smart phone and various platforms to push out content.  Nailed this!


What Lanouette means by this is simply that teachers aren't rooted to one spot in their classroom.  They maneuver around the classroom.

This is something I can always get better at.

2.  Organized

This one was a punch to the gut for me, for organized I am not.  Lanouette claims that all highly effective teachers a psychotically organized.  They never turn in grades late.  They don't stand at the copier five minutes before class starts.

This is not a trait I possess, I'm afraid.

3.  Patient

Effective instructors know that students won't master a concept the first, second, or even third time.  They have to have patience to grind it out with students.

4.  Challenging

These teachers know that the most complex, challenging subject is just really a bunch of smaller, less complex ideas tacked on top of one another.

I think of the multi-genre research paper or the braided essay.  When I tell my College Comp 1 and 2 students that they'll be writing an essay in the 12-30 page range, they gasp.  But when I explain that both of these essays are really just smaller essays woven (or braided) together, they see it as manageable.

5.  Adaptive

This is a no brainer for teachers today.  I think of a line Mr. Zutz used the day we learned we were a 1:1 school district: "If you dislike change, you're going to hate extinction."

6.  Syntactic

This one is the most interesting to me.  What Lanouette means by this is watch how teachers use pronouns.  Do they always talk about "my" class?  Or do they say "our" class?  Is it about them and their content or is it about a collective classroom where everyone matters and has a say?

7.  Passionate

Lanouette compares this one to fun.  Highly effective instructors are passionate about their subjects and craft.  That love and passion rubs off on their students and they make learning fun in what they're doing.

8.  Interactive

They teach students but they also know that students can't be "friends" with students.  They interactive but they know boundaries.  They need to be coached and instructed.  I see social media as a great vehicle for this.

9.  Serious

Highly effective instructors not only know what they're teaching is critically important, but they also can answer two vital questions every single day in class: "Why" and "How"?  Why do we have to learn this?  How will this ever impact my life?  If you can't answer those, you might not be effective.

10.  Caring

This goes without saying right? This has to be blatantly obvious.  Again, here is where social media comes in to play.  It's so easy to reach out and show students how much we care about them.

Notice what things don't make the list -

Your degree
Your years of experience in the field
You years teaching

Lanouette has never found that those three things make you a highly effective instructor.

Part 1

 The sound quality on this one is pretty sketchy though.

  Part 2

 The sound quality is better for this one, slightly.

 Part 3

  Part 4

 The sound quality is sketchy again on this one. Sorry.

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