Scott McKnight has started to review Ken Bain’s book What the Best College Teachers Do over at Jesus Creed, the entries so far are Good Teachers 1 and Good Teachers 2.  I am not trying to copy him just he has caught up to my reading for once.

Bain’s aim is to to encourage teachers to be the best by studying what the best teachers do.  The book at one level is dry as it a report of research and at the same time it is inspirational for setting out how to do things.

The questions that Bain reports on in the end are six:

1) What Do the Best Teachers Know and Understand?

2) How Do They Prepare to Teach?

3) What Do They Expect of Their Students?

4) What Do They Do When They Teach?

5) How Do They Treat Students?

6) How Do They Check Their Progress and Evaluate Their Efforts?

Scott is applying this to discipleship and as I did that approach previously with Creating Significant Learning Experiences I’m going to take a different tack I want you and I to reflect on people who do and do not meet the criteria that Bain will discuss.

The first question I want to address is the know and understand question.  Bain raises the idea that Best College Teachers know their field and can do what they ask of their students.  This is a challenge for all of us as if we know a field we know we can learn more about it.  However I think of someone who I used to work with if I asked him to do with his students what he was asking them to do he would have struggled.  Funnily enough when he worked for me in a subject he refused to do the work as requested.

Other people I can think of were all practitioners of their fields.  They could do what was asked of them at the drop of a hat and even better sometimes than expected because of their practical experience.

In the end as good teachers it behooves us to know our material and to be able to do what is required.  What happens when you have to do units that you know are not your speciality?  Come up to speed really quickly.  Work hard.  And finally become a coach, working to improving the people you teach rather than leading them forward.  Think it through like this Tiger Woods swing coach is not the best player in the world but he might just be the best coach for Tiger Woods if he can get him to improve his game.

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