I’ve been teaching ever since I can remember. Even before starting school, I was that kid who lined up their toys (and little sister) while I stood at the front and flamboyantly “taught” all kinds of weird and wonderful things assisted by my chalk and a blackboard easel. Then, many years later I graduated from university and set out on my career, gradually learning that there is a lot more to teaching than that… thankfully.
I now believe that the best teachers acknowledge the interests, strengths, challenges and broader human stories of the students they work with. When learners know their teacher cares about them, when high expectations are explained and upheld, and when the material is structured specifically for them, they will be more willing to have a go when challenged, to risk making mistakes and to ask for help when they need it. Combine these elements with warm, open communication and the scene is set for a positive and lasting difference in learning. And not a soft toy or blackboard in sight.