Think like a teacher


Doctors not only learn medical terminology and procedures, but they also learn how to think like a doctor.

Lawyers learn legal terminology and procedures, and they learn how to think like lawyers.

And so on through the professions.

But do teachers learn to think like teachers?

Do teachers think about their classrooms and learning in ways that separate them from parents and others who care about the well being of young people?

I think that they do.

For instance, competent teachers plan with the end in mind. They visualize the classrooms they want for their students and create physical environments, routines, and rules that will create the desired classroom experience. The same is true when those teachers plan instruction.

What, in your experience, does it mean to think like a teacher?

8 Responses to “Think like a teacher”

  1. 1 Sarah Sanders September 23, 2015 at 6:03 am

    There are so many ways that teachers “think” differently – some that immediately come to mind are:
    1) breaking down a task into multiple steps and then working with students at each step in order to build their success.
    2) knowing how to communicate the same idea in many different ways as not all students will understand it the first time or using the same language.
    3) assessing student strengths and needs and then being able to use areas of strenght to build lagging skills.

  2. 3 James Funk September 23, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Teachers “think” in different modalities: oral, visual, tactile, kinesthetic, verbal, logical, solitary, social. Teachers accommodate these modalities within their lesson plans as well as the feedback expected from students.

  3. 5 G. Michael Abbott September 23, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Teachers take their jobs home with them more than people in most jobs, I believe. This means that they are always thinking like a teacher: Will the plans for the day work? Will the absent student return? Should I give him a call? How do I keep up with the papers coming in? How can I use the new knowledge in this magazine in my classroom? Is that student able to see properly? How did that student get that bruise? Why is that student sulking? What can I do to make this class more stimulating?

    I remember going into the classroom in the morning with such thoughts on my mind until the first student arrives. From then on my mind shifts outwardly, I become less contemplative and more engaging. It happens in an instant.

    I’m sure teachers think in different ways. I remember being proud to walk down high school halls full of students and knowing that I was a teacher. I considered it a noble profession.

    G. Michael Abbott

    • 6 Dennis Sparks September 23, 2015 at 9:46 am

      Thanks for reminding us, Mike, that for many teachers teaching is a 24/7 responsibility. Even when they are not in the school or classroom, they are thinking about their teaching and about students.

  4. 7 Cheryl Walsh September 24, 2015 at 7:41 am

    Teachers are always looking for ways to use the things they see in the world around them in their classrooms. For example, “How can I use this advertisement/news article in my class?”

    • 8 Dennis Sparks September 25, 2015 at 6:52 am

      Another great example, Cheryl, of the 24/7 nature of teaching—constantly being on the lookout for materials and methods to improve one’s teaching. Thanks for sharing your perspective with readers!

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