For all students – be that SBL students or otherwise – they need to be inspired. In my many years of experience in education and in leading schools around the world, I have observed hundreds, maybe thousands, of inspirational teachers. Over the years I have compiled 6 key areas that indicate what an inspirational teacher really does. Do all of our SBL Facilitators match these 6 key areas? Undoubtedly, they do and I am sure as you read through the 6 key areas below, you will identify these characteristics in your child’s Facilitator too!
They Always Check for Attention
Securing students’ attention is critical for thinking. Students will inevitably lose focus unless they have tasks or questions that occupy their minds. Without attention, without thinking – there is no learning. It’s a key skill that inspirational teachers consider and check constantly and throughout their lessons.
They Bring Prior Knowledge to Life
Students cannot make sense in the direction you want according to the demands of the curriculum unless, at every stage, they have the prior knowledge needed. Inspirational teachers check assumptions about prior knowledge all the time – they go back as far as they need to allow all students to connect to things they already know. They take their students on a ‘mind journey’ from where they actually are by using numerous checking processes including quizzing, pair talk and general assessment over time and by talking and telling stories.
Engagement in Questioning
An inspirational teacher involves all students in questioning. They change and adapt their questioning methods to ensure every student can practise, can think and can reveal their thoughts to you. They make sure that in classes it is impossible to opt out or for a few students to dominate whilst others sit back passively. Of course a silent student might be thinking – but an inspirational teacher knows how to involve quieter students so that they respond and they use inclusive questioning that makes everyone think.
Practice and rehearsal through talk and writing
Consolidation of meaning and knowledge is critical to building strong interconnected understanding and knowledge – inspirational teachers know this. EVERY STUDENT needs to practise the things they learn – not just some. Inspirational teachers ensure that all students practise what they have learnt through a variety of means – talking, writing, teaching back, discussions and a variety of other tasks. Inspirational lessons
Respond to Feedback
A vital aspect of inspirational teaching is that we adapt our teaching methods and approaches in response to how well our students are learning. Great teachers need short feedback daily and longer feedback weekly that allow them to address learning issues as they arise. Inspirational teachers want every student to succeed, and they use feedback as a means to adapt their strategies for each student. Their daily routines are about finding out where students struggle and then reteaching those areas, going back to some solid ground and rebuilding again: more examples, more practice, more concrete reference points, some visual aids, alternative explanations… whatever it takes. A big part of this includes empowering students to develop some agency around self-study with good tools to support that. It requires effort on their part – but inspirational teachers direct that effort.
Inspirational teachers keep the level of challenge high but support other students to progress at a lower starting point. They design learning scaffolds that allow all students to participate and make meaning within a lesson or a task, without needing to rely solely on their prior knowledge.This provides temporary support not dependency and does wonders to encourage students into a conversation or to construct a piece of writing or to perform key learning tasks. An inspirational teacher works out which scaffolds to use and when to reduce the level of scaffolding so that students no longer need them.
As with so many things, no one of these elements is easy or sufficient. Inspirational teaching comes from weaving all of these characteristics together over time, lesson to lesson – something our SBL Facilitators do on a daily basis.
If you would like your child to be learning with such inspirational facilitators the reach out to us and we will answer all your questions