By Kenny Sholl, Assistant Headmaster at McCallie School
For the last 20 years I have had the tremendous honor and immense pleasure to visit and observe our teachers on the Ridge as they work with boys in their classroom environments. While they are very different individuals teaching a wide range of content and skills, over the years I picked up on some incredibly effective common themes that our teachers practice and share with their students on a daily basis.
In observing the McCallie faculty over the years, the best, most effective — and almost always the most popular — teachers possess certain attributes and attitudes that enable them to stand out and give their students the best instruction, leadership and guidance.
Here is a list of what I believe it takes to be a great McCallie School teacher.
McCallie Teachers ...
- Accept that boys will be boys, but that’s no excuse…
- Love the boys, but hold them accountable.
- Find their own unique teaching voice.
- Get to know the students, but maintain healthy relationships.
- Plan classes with engagement as the number one goal.
- Are mindful that curriculum exists to teach the boys.
- Have high, but achievable, expectations.
- Maintain a "rigid flexibility" in courses, teams, and activities.
- Endeavor to make courses accessible through effort.
- Model outstanding character at all times… on and off campus.
- Take their work seriously, but not so much themselves.
- Know and accept they are working with the leaders and difference makers of the future.
To teach boys and inspire them, a teacher must never be dull or dry. They must excite, prod and at times “constructively frustrate” their students. The following slightly altered quote by the author Robertson Davies expresses this better than I ever could:
“If a boy can't have a good teacher, give him a psychological cripple or an exotic failure to cope with; don't just give him a bad, dull teacher. This is where the private schools differ. They can accommodate a few cultured madmen and madwomen on the staff without having to offer explanations.”
At McCallie, we want teachers who are exceptional scholars, great instructors and — at times — remarkable and unique characters, because it is those teachers that inspire boys to achieve more and the ones they will remember for the rest of their lives.