Important Questions for Teachers

by James B. Stenson

Some principles:

  1. Do I have a sense of "vocation" about my teaching career? Do I strive to be an excellent professional—enjoying (as Aristotle put it) "the full use of one's powers along lines of excellence"?

  2. How do I expect each of my students to change for the better, and for life, as a result of my professional service? How am I working to improve their character strengths of sound judgment, sense of responsibility, tough-minded perseverance, self-mastery, and heart (compassion, magnanimity)?

  3. To look at it another way, what am I doing to help them internalize lifelong attitudes and habits essential to their later success and ethical uprightness—integrity, powers of sustained effort, realistic self-confidence, regard for others' rights, respect for learning and intellectual accomplishment, a spirit of service and collaboration, ideals of professionalism?

  4. Do I foster a sense of collaborative accomplishment ("We...") in our classwork? How do I convey a sense of progress to them, that they are growing steadily in some powers that will benefit them and others throughout their lives? Do I help them project their lives forward toward the challenges of the next 50 years?

  5. Do my students know what is expected of them? Are my rules reasonable, clear, and fair? Am I quick to admit mistakes and make apologies where necessary, showing that I value truth and justice above my pride?

  6. Do I reflect deeply about the strengths, unsuspected gifts, and possibilities of each student, especially those in the middle of the class, who are often overlooked?

  7. Do I try to maintain reasonably frequent contact with the parents of each student—and see this as an essential part of my professional service?

  8. What works would I recommend to parents and gifted students who wished to know more about my field of interest?

Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this material for private use.
It is taken from the Website of James B. Stenson, educational consultant: