Gaston Caperton on Effective Teaching

Question: What are the qualities that make a great teacher?

Caperton:    First of all, a great teacher really loves learning, really believes in learning, is a learner themselves, is an expert in what they teach, and, with those qualities, they are engaging.  And they also have to love kids and love the work that they’re doing.  Probably my best example is seeing what AP teachers do, the teachers that teach those students the AP program.  And what I see in those teachers is a real love of their subject.  I see a commitment to the student.  I see very high standards, and I see them looking for new ways to engaged students in the classroom.  So, I think that’s what really I see in those teachers.  Now, as it relates to innovation, I don't think we have very much innovation in education.  I think we’ve fallen way behind in innovation, and I think that’s one of the reasons that our education system isn’t as good as it should be, that we still have the teacher standing in front of 30 students, sometimes more, sometimes less, lecturing rather than engaging them with all that’s available today.  You know, I was, we were, one of the large television networks came to us with all of their news reels and all of their libraries of history, and they were looking at ways that they could bring that into the classroom, and we were fascinated by it.  We haven’t been able to really do that in a way that I wanted to do that, because how can you tell a young person today what was it like when Dr. King was running this revolution in this country?  When I saw during the Obama inauguration and leading up to it so many pictures of the South when there were hoses and dogs, when I looked at that, it was hard for me to believe that that had occurred, even though I lived during that age and saw it.  Well, I couldn’t explain that to a 10 year old or a 15 or 16 year old unless they saw it.  So, there’s an awful lot about it that we can be, that we don’t bring to students that we could to really let them have a sense of history and many other subjects.

Gaston Caperton describes what it takes to make it in front of the classroom.

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