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Being a teacher- Book Review

1 September 2020
Dr. Moria Levy
book cover

"Being a Teacher: Inspirational Chapters in Education" is a book written by Lior Halevi, a seasoned principal and educator. Some might question its presence in a managerial knowledge base; similar books have been included before, such as Michael Fullan's "The Principal." The reason for their inclusion lies in the belief that effective teaching requires a blend of human skills, leadership, and knowledge transfer, aligning with our goals. The book was published in 2016.


The book encompasses the following topics: (Note: The arrangement of the content may not perfectly mirror the original order in the book but captures the main themes)

  1. Personal conduct

  2. Vision

  3. Professional expression (emotional)

  4. Leading change

  5. In front of the group

  6. In front of the individual

  7. Transfer of knowledge

  8. Understanding


 I recommend reading the book – one chapter at a time. There is some overlap between the themes, and each chapter sheds light on different aspects. Enjoy your reading!

 

Personal Conduct

 Vision

Teaching is more than just a job; it's a vocation that requires a genuine love for education and the subjects taught. As educators, it's essential to shape the present while keeping an eye on the future, drawing inspiration from fellow educators and educational leaders.


 Developing a clear vision and values aligned with the school's environment and broader educational values is crucial. For a vision to be successful, it must be practical and applicable. It requires dedication and effective communication to ensure it becomes an integral part of everyone's daily life. Regularly reinforcing the vision among all stakeholders is essential to its realization.

 

Professionalism

It is essential to demand a high level of professionalism from ourselves. The Levy practice embraces the idea of coaching and practice from the book "Excellence," which recommends 10,000 hours of training/practice as the foundation for personal progress. To ensure high-quality practice, constant debriefing and improvement are necessary. We can engage in practice sessions, additional activities, mental practice (mind training), and more. The more thorough our preliminary practice is before entering the classroom, the better we will perform in real-time.

 

Self-Criticism

The ability to accept criticism from others and ourselves is vital. Implementing and improving based on feedback and criticism is crucial for personal growth.

 

Knowledge Management

Knowledge management can be a powerful tool, allowing us to leverage the knowledge and experience of others rather than reinventing the wheel. We should utilize the knowledge of others and create templates and fixed content that can be shared with others. Portals, social networks, and knowledge communities provide effective platforms for implementing knowledge management.

 

Attention to Detail

Excellence lies in paying attention to the small details that collectively form the bigger picture. Adherence to more information in all aspects and contexts is critical to achieving excellence.

 

Decision Making

Consulting, considering various aspects, and exploring alternatives are advisable in decision-making. Decisions should align with personal values and beliefs. After making a decision, it is essential to be decisive and stick to the chosen course of action. Documenting behaviors and decisions will facilitate information-based decision-making and improve our ability to stand up for ourselves and explain our choices retrospectively.

 

Emotion

The best moments in our lives are those where we experience a state of "flow." Identifying these moments of flow, both in ourselves and those around us, is the foundation for joy, creativity, and success. Energy, enthusiasm, and passion for our work elevate us to greater heights, weaving love for our profession and occupation.

 

Assertiveness

To succeed in our interactions with others, we must not be afraid to assert ourselves. Being assertive, yet not aggressive, is essential. Believing in ourselves and conveying confidence to others are vital aspects of assertiveness.

 

Restraint

The ability to hold back can be a valuable tool. Sometimes, rejecting an immediate response allows us to come up with a more informed and measured one. A level-headed, restrained, and responsible response is crucial for success. A helpful technique for implementing challenging ideas is mirroring, stepping back, and observing from a different perspective before deciding on the course of action. It is important to remember not to be judgmental and to act from a place of inclusiveness and empathy.

 

Humor

While humor is generally perceived as positive, it is less recommended for those in a parenting role. It can add flavor, but it should be different from the essence of the message. Humor also carries risks, considering changing tastes, sensitivities, and potential misinterpretations.

 

Messaging

When conveying a message, the words we use are just one part of it. The message also includes how we raise our voice, the subtext accompanying our words and actions, and our overall behavior before, during, and after the discourse, even in other contexts. All these elements contribute to effective communication.

 

Discipline

When it comes to discipline, being authoritative can be beneficial. Effective discipline should be immediate, consistent, confident, easy to implement, decent, positive, proportionate, and effective. Additionally, it is wise for a teacher to maintain a healthy distance from their students physically and verbally.

 

Reputation

Beyond our actions, we must also consider how others perceive us. Our reputation is a valuable asset, and a positive reputation is built upon the values we convey.

 

Leading Change

Being in front of the group

Leading change is essential for progress, development, and achieving the vision. It is not a one-time effort but a continuous process. When implementing change, it is crucial to have a goal-oriented focus. Choose a few important directions and align them with the organization's larger goals.


To succeed in implementing change, it is best to start with those who are innovative and enthusiastic. They will be the early adopters. Then, work with the larger group and address the more conservative majority. Avoid investing resources in the apathetic end of the scale, as their resistance might not be worth the effort.


Documenting progress is vital for adjusting and improving the actions taken to achieve change. Focus on the pattern of change, the steps to be performed, and the target groups for each activity. Regularly map the existing situation to help maintain focus and monitor progress.


Motivating change requires effective leadership that inspires action. Here are some recommendations for motivating the group:

  • Propose feasible and beneficial changes, ensuring the group believes it will be worthwhile and achievable.

  • Coordinate expectations to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts.

  • Speak positively, even when pushing for change.

  • Foster a sense of unit pride and belonging within the group by involving everyone, sharing and consulting, and giving choices.

  • Utilize the organization's resources to support and drive change.


 By following these principles, leaders can effectively lead and implement change within their organizations. 


In Front of the Individual

To motivate change on an individual level, it is essential to take specific actions:

  • Build trust: Have complete confidence in the person without any reservations or conditions.

  • Establish a personal connection: Make everyone feel special, treated as an individual, and respected.

  • Be trustworthy, honest, and approachable: Avoid labeling or judging others.

  • Set high expectations: Challenging yet achievable goals maximize success and instill a sense of anticipation in everyone, including those who may feel less capable.

  • Provide support: Assist individuals eager to succeed by understanding their strengths and weaknesses and utilizing their strengths to help them advance while addressing their weaknesses. Offer necessary resources to help them achieve their goals.

  • Use authentic praise: Genuine praise promotes and motivates action. Praise effort and investment indirectly is more effective than directly praising the outcome.


 By implementing these approaches, individuals can be motivated and supported in their journey toward change and personal growth.

 

Transfer of knowledge

The process of knowledge transfer during a lesson can be enhanced through the following practices:

  • Presenting knowledge as a story makes it more engaging and memorable.

  • Capturing learners' attention with a positive opening.

  • Linking new knowledge to previous experiences or existing knowledge.

  • Integrating new knowledge with previously transferred information and providing opportunities for practice and repetition.

  • Delivering intelligent, relevant, and interactive discourse that connects with learners personally.

  • Preparing learners for focused listening and ignoring distractions.

  • Maintaining a flow during the lesson to minimize interruptions and address issues smoothly.

  • Tailoring the transfer of knowledge to suit the specific group of learners.

  • Providing a summary that helps reinforce the topic discussed and arouses interest for future sessions.

 

Tailored Transfer for Each Learner

Recognizing that human intelligence encompasses various types, such as intellectual, linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, physical-movement, intrapersonal, and interpersonal intelligence, it is essential to identify each learner's strengths and adapt the knowledge transfer accordingly. Offering diverse tasks that cater to individual preferences for experimenting, practicing, and internalizing can be effective, even in a group of diverse learners.

 

Preliminary Preparation

The teacher should respect the knowledge transfer process and prepare in advance, both in terms of content and the accompanying means of presentation. The quality of the presentation significantly influences the effectiveness of the transfer.

 

Creating a Positive Learning Climate

It is the teacher or leader's responsibility to establish a positive and conducive atmosphere for learning. A teacher who can create a seamless lesson is more likely to succeed in effectively transmitting knowledge to the learners.

 

Understanding

The essence of knowledge transmission lies in the student's or the recipient's understanding of the knowledge passed on to them. The Bental-Maine pyramid of the National Training Laboratories illustrates the average recall of material based on the method of knowledge transfer:

  • Frontal lecture: 5%

  • Reading: 10%

  • Video/Audio Listening: 20%

  • Demonstration: 20%

  • Discussion Groups: 50%

  • Practice: 75%

  • Teaching Others: 90%


 The artist and apprentice approach, where learning occurs through shared experiences over time, is also an effective tool for fostering understanding. Ultimately, it is crucial to engage learners actively in the learning process to ensure optimal understanding.

 

Proficiency in Statistical Data and Metrics

A good grasp of a student's data is essential, as statistics are a powerful management tool. Analyzing the data can provide insights into the student's behaviors, environmental factors, identify general challenges, track goal progress, and measure overall understanding.

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