August 21, 2017
For many years, I thought that effective teaching was about knowing mathematics and delivering the content in an engaging way. But experience has taught me that in order to be a Jedi Master Teacher, I need to motivate and inspire my students.
As a Master of Content, a Jedi Master Teacher begins with a solid foundation of subject matter and then, through experience, grows an acute awareness of the thinking involved in specific content areas. Jedi Master Teachers always know the long-term learning goals, and they use scope and sequence to organize thinking for students.
As a Master of Instruction, a Jedi Master Teacher also knows the best teaching strategies to engage students and develop their thinking. When presented with students of varying ability, a Master Teacher continuously monitors student progress through formative assessments and then uses differentiation to support and challenge learners at all levels.
While teachers must be responsible for delivering sound content with effective teaching strategies, many people believe that students are ultimately responsible for their own motivation. I don’t believe this to be true. If student learning is my vocation, and motivation and inspiration help promote that learning, then I must assume full responsibility for getting students inspired and engaged. Any student from my classroom who does not achieve his or her learning potential is my failure. I hold myself accountable. It is my job to identify the appropriate motivational strategy to push each student to his or her true potential. Thus, to complete the tenets of being a Jedi Master Teacher, one must also be a Master of Motivation.
Luke Wilcox is Michigan’s Teacher of the Year for 2017-18, and Meemic is proud to partner with the Michigan Department of Education for the program. He’s the mathematics department chairperson at East Kentwood High School in Kentwood Public Schools, where he’s spent his entire 16-year career.