If you Google teacher quotes many sayings pop up, such as “A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind and touches a heart” or “It takes a big heart to mold young minds.” a recent Ted Talk from Dr. Christopher Emdin of Columbia University made us think about what makes these teachers that we remember so great. Do they have magic? How is it that the lessons from some teachers stay with us, even when we have become parents of our own or the CEO of a company? What is it about certain teachers that they can influence generations?
Dr. Emdin’s Ted Talk discusses the importance of providing teachers with the best techniques to be “magical” teachers, the ones that everyone remembers long after they leave the classroom.
Emdin opens his talk by providing various experiences of young educators learning how to become great. “Right now, there is an aspiring teacher who is working on 60 page paper, based on some age old education theory, developed by some dead education professor, wondering to herself what this task that she’s engaging in has to do with what she wants to do with her life, which is be an educator, change lives and spark magic.” He goes on to state two more examples including a student that is currently sitting in a classroom listening to a professor talking about how to engage a classroom in the most disengaging way.
While it’s important to learn the basics of teaching and educating, there is an even more important lesson that cannot be taught in a classroom and that’s how to inspire the class. Some teachers just seem to have the magic touch in a classroom engaging students so they jump out of bed in the morning excited to learn. Emdin relates engaging a class with a rap star and a church. He describes how a minister standing up on a podium in front of a congregation changes the infection of his/her voice to captivate those who are listening. The point he hopes his audience takes away from the talk is that many of the best educators go and learn about the students’ environment and that we rethink the way we prepare teachers to go into the classroom. While theory is important, so is engaging your audience.
At UMassOnline we think we have this magic in our professors. Students feel that they connect with their professors even when they are not on campus. We want to know, have you experienced a magical teacher? What is the lesson that made a imprint in your life?