It does seem incongruous that in a student-centred model, students have little input into process. In an attempt to rectify this, Hargreaves and Shirley include students as partners of change as one of the six pillars in the Fourth Way.
The authors admit that while students are targets of school reform and change, they are not often empowered to be agents of change despite having a good grasp of the things that help them learn.
A colleague recently forwarded me the replies from Year 11 students to the question ‘what makes a good teacher’:
- knows how to teach and knows their subject
- can communicate – gets all students involved by asking questions
- adapts to the capabilities of students
- doesn’t teach from the text books
- good sense of humour
What is remarkable is that the comments were not only collected in 2004 but that it demonstrates a very clear alignment between what students know and what theory tells us.
What would Year 11 students in that secondary school tell us today? Probably something similar – good teachers have deep discipline and pedagogical content knowledge (knows how to teach and knows their subject), adapts to the capabilities of students (can personalise learning) and can communicate with a good sense of humour (builds respectful relationships).
For me, it is confirmation that these qualities stand the test of time and learners. We know what teachers want but how often do we ask or know what students want from their schooling experience?