For some risky activities it may be best not to ask permission, partly because the risks that good teachers take are not really all that risky, and partly because it is, after all, easier to get forgiveness than to get permission.
And just as we will do almost anything to help a student who really wants to succeed, so they will help us to be good teachers if they sense that we are sincere in our efforts to succeed at teaching.
My hope is that my readers will be inspired to think far less about what I have noticed makes a good teacher than about what they themselves have noticed.
Good teachers, as soon as their students have mastered something, push their best students well past the edge of their comfort zone, striving to make them uncomfortable, to challenge their confidence so they can earn a new confidence.
I wish I could apologize to them, or at least find out more about what I did wrong." The not-so-good teachers also do not trust student evaluations, but they distrust them for difference reasons.
Good teachers push and challenge their students, jerking them into places where they feel uncomfortable, where they don't know enough, where they cannot slide by on past knowledge or techniques.
I have noticed that good teachers try to keep their students off balance, forcing them to step into challenges that they are not at all sure they can handle.
Good Teachers Try to Keep Students-And Themselves-Off Balance
I have learned that when I am comfortable, complacent, and sure of myself I am not learning anything.
These three well-written essays create a strong set. The first and the last would have been impressive on their own. Reading them all together magnifies their impact considerably. This student does an especially good job of targeting the school. This student focuses his first essay on his extracurriculars and relates them to why Duke would be perfect for him. He focuses the third on his Chinese background and how it relates to his career goals and academic interests. Then he also relates these interests to why Duke matches him perfectly. His favorite book provided the focus of the second essay. What makes this second essay better than others like it is that the applicant manages to put himself into the question. He does not just talk about the book, he uses it to talk about himself and stress the inquisitive nature of his personality-always a plus.
Anyone can get good student evaluations by lowering their standards, being popular, and by pandering to the masses." Good teachers tend to discount the positive evaluations, however numerous they may be; less-good teachers tend to discount the negative evaluations, however numerous they may be.
They know that they do a much better job with the two courses than the three because they give more time to the individual students, but they also know that for a responsible teacher the work of good teaching expands to fill every moment they can give to it.
The good teachers draw the most students, get the most requests for letters of recommendation, work most diligently at grading papers, give the most office hours and are most frequently visited during those office hours, are most in demand for committee work, work hardest at class preparations, work hardest at learning their students' names, take the time to give students counsel in areas that have nothing to do with specific courses, are most involved in professional activities off campus.
Harvard is notorious for its long list of essay questions, as you can see from the seven essays this applicant had to write. The first essay is a standard favorite book essay. His second, about his favorite teacher, goes into more depth and reveals more about the candidate, that he enjoys learning, admires independent thought, and plans to study history.