Can you really be a “Master Teacher?”

I’ve read a few blog posts recently about being a “Master Teacher.” I listen to podcasts where “Master Teachers” are interviewed. I’ve been in meetings where the phrase “Master Teacher” was tossed around. But for as many times as I’ve read or heard those two words, the question I keep coming back to is this, can you really ever be a Master Teacher?

You can be a really good teacher, heck, you can be an AMAZING teacher.

You can be an expert in the content you teach.

You can know your students’ likes, dislikes, hobbies, siblings, home life, and everything else.

You can reflect on your practice and make changes tomorrow.

You can spot a problem, and make changes immediately.

You can be looked to as a teacher leader by your colleagues.

You can be “Excellent” on your evaluations.

But can you ever really master teaching?

Teaching is fluid – it changes constantly. New ideas are introduced, new initiatives are pushed out. Your students change every nine months, and what worked well with one group might not work with the next one.

Maybe its semantics. Maybe its ego. Maybe its because saying someone is a “really good teacher” just isn’t enough. I don’t know where the “master teacher” phrase came from, but I wish it to go away. The best teachers I know are the ones that will be the first to admit that they have in no way “mastered” the craft of teaching. They are the ones who until the day they retire continue to work hard, try new things, and put the needs of students first.

You might be able to master a part of teaching – a master questioner, a master of developing lessons, a master assessor – but the idea that we can master the entire craft of teaching is somewhat ridiculous. And honestly, I think the desire to go back and improve each day, or admit that a lesson failed, or ask for help when you need it is what makes a teacher a really good teacher.

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