A thoughtful colleague at one of my client schools (anonymous now but not for long) wants to create a “portrait of a teacher” for and with her faculty. It is a great challenge: we need to know what we are aiming for if we want to hit it. She sent me some proposed questions for a survey and a set of focus groups. I loved how open-ended the questions were. Yet I wondered if they would really allow teachers to think expansively about their jobs, roles, and hopes, or if teachers might revert to a comfortable self-image based on past experience.
I thought about how a designer might approach the same task, the questions we should ask to dig more deeply into what we want, think, and hope about our aiming point of the “great teacher”. I came up with some suggested questions and prompts for discussions, out of which an empathetic observer might dig nuggets that would lead to new insights into the evolving portrait of a “great teacher” at this, or any other, school.
- What is great learning?
- What is great teaching?
- Tell me about one of the best teachers you had growing up. Why? Why?
- Tell me about one of the worst teachers you had growing up. Why? Why?
- What are the roles a great teacher plays in making school better?
- How do good teachers lead change?
- How do great teachers relate to administrators? To each other?
- How do great teachers connect with the world outside of the classroom?
- Five years from now, how will you have changed as a teacher and as a person?
- What makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning and come to school?
- What makes you want to stay in bed?
- What is the best use of your time and talent as a teacher?
- What is the biggest waste of your time and talent as a teacher?