Dr. Marvin Thompson, (EdD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies) is the Chief Academic Officer for Future Is Now Schools. In his previous post as superintendent of the Roanoke City Public Schools, he increased the number of accredited schools by 25 percent, closed the No Child LeftBehind (NCLB) achievement gap and increased the number of students scoring "Passed Advanced" on the Virginia assessment tests. He has recently started at John McDonongh High School in New Orleans, where 70% of the students don't graduate.
We asked Dr. Thompson (or Dr. T, as he's better known) to give us the often overlooked signs of a great teacher:
1. When the students in the classroom are doing more talking than the teacher.
In today's classroom, learning should be inquiry based, not teacher directed. A good teacher sets the stage for students to investigate, inquire and create an engaging learning environment. A meaningful, class-wide discussion is a positive sign.
2. When a teacher shares ideas with other teachers.
The sharing of ideas actually helps the teacher hone their skills and incorporate best practices from other teachers. Just as doctors consult one another on patients, teachers should engage in the same type of dialogue with one another.
3. When a teacher knows more than just the curriculum, but the intent of the curriculum.
Learning is not just about what the subject matter is, but what the students are meant to master through the learning process. It is not enough to teach students how to multiply and divide, but to ensure they also understand the skills behind the lesson. If a student can't relate what they are doing to real-world activities, it often limits the relevance of the lesson, which in turn diminishes engagement and interest.
4. When a teacher recognizes and rewards student effort, even for the small stuff.
If students are doing something positiveand every child is capable of something positiverecognize them for their effort. Sometimes all a student needs is a little encouragement. A great teacher focuses on what their students are doing, even if that means they are just showing up to class, because you never know what learning fears they have. You never know what challenges they are facing outside the classroom. A great teacher shows their students that they matter. Sometimes, it's as simple as that.
Dr. Thompson's efforts to transform John McDonogh High School can be seen on the new OWN docu-series Blackboard Wars, premiering Saturday February 16th at 9/8c on OWN. Watch a sneak peek here.
Wes Moore is a youth advocate, Army combat veteran, national bestselling author, and innovative social entrepreneur. His first book, The Other Wes Moore, became an instant New York Times bestseller. He is also the host of Beyond Belief on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.
Wes was born in 1978 in Maryland, and, three years later, his father died suddenly in front of him. His mother moved with Wes and his two sisters to the Bronx, New York. Although he had early disciplinary challenges, Wes graduated Phi Theta Kappa from Valley Forge Military College in 1998 and Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University in 2001. He completed an MLitt in International Relations from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar in 2004. Wes was a paratrooper and Captain in the United States Army, serving a combat tour of duty in Afghanistan with the 1st Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division in 2005-2006. He spearheaded the American strategic support plan for the Afghan Reconciliation Program, and, as a White House Fellow from 2006-2007, Moore served as a Special Assistant to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Wes serves on IAVA's Board of Directors (Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America), and the Board of Trustees for Johns Hopkins University and The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. While a student at Johns Hopkins he founded STAND!, which works with Baltimore youth involved in the criminal justice system. Wes was a featured speaker at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, a "40 Under 40 Rising Star" in Crain's New York Business, and was named to Ebony Magazine's Annual Power 100 List in 2011. He has been featured by The New York Times, USA Today, People Magazine, Oprah, Meet the Press, Charlie Rose, The View, and NPR, amongst others.
Wes is committed to helping young people redirect their lives and supporting the parents, teachers, mentors and volunteers who care for, and work with, our nation's youth. A portion of the proceeds from sales of The Other Wes Moore are being donated to the U.S. Dream Academy and City Year.
Wes lives with his wife Dawn and his daughter in New York.
Our December issue features Oprah's Favorite Things—as well as your chance to win them all! You'll also find our easy holiday declutter plan, Dr. Oz's guide to sleeping better (starting tonight) and the ultimate holiday menu.