Good Learners Make Good Teachers

It’s hard to say what exactly will help you find your teaching voice and your identity as an instructor, but I can certainly say, from my experience, being a good learner is imperative. I found that one of the most important things to finding my teaching voice was finding what was important to my own learning experiences. In order to do that, I had to be an active learner in any experience I could. What was it about a particular class that made assignments manageable to complete? What were the most important things instructors did that made lectures consumable?

Being able to reflect on all of these things and culminate the best experiences (and the lessons from the worst) into your personal style and firm teaching ideals is all that is needed to find your way to a teaching voice. Personally, I feel that as long as I am keeping a good sense of empathy for my students and fostering some sense of critical thinking or academic exploration, then I am successful as an instructor. This is not to say that I will find a set of ideals and stick to them forever; things change and so do we. It’s important to not just stick to a particular set of rules forever. Obviously, the important things like empathy, integrity, and critical thinking should be the foundation for all teaching philosophies, but that doesn’t mean how we express our teaching voice must remain the same.

Times change, students change, needs change, and so must our teaching voices. In order to do this, not only do we have to be good learners, but we have to be constantly learning. Being a good teacher isn’t an irrevocable status, the definition of a good teacher changes with the needs of students. So, as teachers, our methods and values must change and, consequently, so will our teaching voices.

Math Joke of the Day: What do you get if you divide a pumpkin’s circumference by its diameter? Pumpkin π

8 thoughts on “Good Learners Make Good Teachers

  1. Julie says:

    Being a good listener is very very challenging and something that as future faculty we need to learn to do and learn to do well. We need to learn to listen to our students about what is working and why it isn’t working. And something that worked last semester might not work this semester. So, we need to be prepared to evolve our teaching voices and our style of teaching to benefit the students.

  2. sarawenger says:

    Thanks for your post. I really liked this part: “I feel that as long as I am keeping a good sense of empathy for my students and fostering some sense of critical thinking or academic exploration, then I am successful as an instructor.” Not only is listening a crucial element of being a great instructor, but, as you pointed out, being empathetic. Knowing students are only human, things might not go the way you planned, and sometimes things/events/lessons won’t get done in the way you envisioned are all parts of being an empathetic instructor. Times change and students change, as you pointed out, and it’s important that our pedagogical tools change along with them.

  3. alexc202 says:

    Great post! I also reflected on past learning experiences to develop my teaching voice. While being a good learner is imperative for excellent teaching, I feel it is as at the very least, the attempt to learn! Attempting to be good learners, develops into good learners! I remember when I finally started proofreading my class notes every day, and restructuring them to make studying (and beginning the process of studying) easier. I definitely agree that empathy, integrity, and critical thinking should be the foundation for teaching philosophies no matter the subject or situation. I, too, agree with your points that our teaching voices will change over time inevitably!

  4. readyornothereweblog says:

    I like how you ended with “being a good teacher is not an irrevocable status.” We’ve all had those professors that have done things the same way for 20+ years, and barely even update their lectures as the field progresses, and we all know how dry and PAINFUL it is to sit through those classes. Delivery and content should change as more knowledge is unearthed, and teaching, like any other skill, always can get better if you practice! Not trying to stay stagnant as you continue to develop as a person and a professional is a good thing, and we should change as teachers as we change as individuals.

  5. captainclippers says:

    I think you make a great point about being an active learner and having a good sense of empathy for your students. By being an active learner in a class you can really pick up on styles and techniques that make learning easier, and those that make it more difficult. This can then be transferred to your class. A good instructor must also be able to see what is working and what isn’t with their students, and understand what it feels like to sit in their seats.

  6. cmfernan says:

    Thanks for sharing! I agree that being empathetic towards your students is imperative. In Deel’s article, she points out that being comfortable with yourself as a teacher and confident in your role, she was able to really see her students for the individuals they are, which is so important. I also agree that being an active learner is important too. We can’t change the future if don’t know what went wrong in the past.

  7. ousmane says:

    Great post! I really liked this “Being a good teacher isn’t an irrevocable status, the definition of a good teacher changes with the needs of students.” I think the students’ needs should guide teachers in choosing a teaching style and a starting point for differentiation. The teacher should begin with the belief that each student is unique in order to establish ties with all of their students and share their thoughts about the classroom with their students. I think that each learner must be supported in gaining maximum access to and proficiency with the knowledge, ideas, and skills that open the doors to both present and future opportunities.

  8. smahdu says:

    I really liked your write up about good teachers being good learners. The timing of this assignment perfectly aligns with a situation that came up in my class last night. My class last night is a distance learning class that is mainly held in the NCR. We Zoom in every week, and the three students on the Blacksburg side, rarely participate because we feel we aren’t engaged. Our Professor came to Blacksburg to teach this week, and one of my classmates made comment about the lack of engagement. The best thing our instructor could have done – she stayed after class and asked us how she could be better. We talked, she listened and took nights. We spoke of our frustrations and recommended ideas for engaging our side more. Next week we are going to try out the strategy and see how it works. When we left, the students were excited, feeling like we were heard. Not sure how it will work out, but I’m optimistic. Our professor showed she was still learning, and it was great!

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