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When I look back on my many years as a student, there is one teacher who really stands
out. Agata Kelly was my grade nine math teacher at Madeleine DHouet Junior High School. She
was then transferred to St Francis High School, where I was in grade ten. There, I was fortunate
enough to have Mme Kelly as my basketball coach. I also had the chance to volunteer in her
classroom during university. Throughout my volunteering, I was able to learn different teaching
practices and receive hands on experience in teaching, while developing a friendship with Mme
Kelly. Mme Kelly is not only an exceptional teacher, but also a great role model, friend, mentor
and basketball coach. I will use Mme Kellys excellence as an example to convey three teaching
concepts from Jere Brophys article (2001): a supportive, welcoming classroom atmosphere for
each student, clear expectations given by the teacher for the students, and why teachers should
provide opportunities for practice and application of the material being taught.
As I delve into the three topics introduced above, I will start by unraveling what it means
to establish a caring learning community. Mme Kelly always ensures that her classes and teams
feel welcomed and respected. Barbara Larrivee (2000) states that treating students with respect
has the biggest impact on their lives. Mme Kellys example of good character shone through at all
times and she brought humor, honesty, humbleness, kindness and motivation to all her lessons. I
remember that Mme Kelly would pay attention to what was going on in peoples lives, and be
sure to ask them about it. For example, when my brother and his wife were expecting his first
baby, she was constantly asking me for updates and was very excited for me to become an aunt.
This really shows how much she cares for her students. Her thoughtful personality makes her
very approachable, which in turn means that students will ask more questions. According to
Larrivee (2000), being a member of the school community is a necessity for students. Mme Kelly
helps build the school community by including each person she with whom she interacts. She is
part of the community through her involvement is sports as a coach, but she also generously gives

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her time to help with school celebrations and other events. Her students adopt her example of
acceptance, and they learn to respect one another, which brings them together in the school
community. Larrivee (2000) argues, Depicting caring and respect means listening to students,
engaging in dialogue with students, showing interest in them, soliciting their opinions, valuing
their ideas, and demonstrating a belief that they are capable (p. 18). In her classroom, students
feel safe, respected and supported because of the climate Mme Kelly creates. Being immersed in
this environment sets the stage for successful learning and student achievement.
Establishing a supportive classroom setting allows teachers and students to work together
to succeed. When teachers create expectations of achievement for students, it gives them a goal to
work towards. Brophy (2001) claims that teachers need to believe their students are capable of
learning. In addition to believing in their students, teachers need to work with the students so they
can realize their full potential. Mme Kelly helps students achieve their best in many ways. When
the semester starts, Mme Kelly provides a course outline that presents an overview of what will
be covered and where students are expected to be at the end of the semester. When starting a unit,
Mme Kelly discusses what the students will be learning, any tests or assignments and how the
unit is building on their previous knowledge. At the beginning of a lesson or basketball practice,
there is an agenda covering the schedule for the day. The agenda is an expectation of what Mme
Kelly expects from her students and it allows them to prepare for what they need to accomplish.
Finally, she checks in with her students and players multiple times throughout the semester and
season to make sure they are on track. She ensures that everyone is enjoying themselves, working
hard, proud of their progress and has good expectations for themselves. If someone is lacking in
any of those areas, Mme Kelly works individually to come up with possible solutions, such as a
study schedule or supplementary resources. Each of these examples clearly demonstrates how
Mme Kelly shares her expectations with her class and team. Raudenbush (1984) suggests that

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when teachers know their students well, they will have appropriate expectations for them. During
math in grade nine, I never had to work too hard, because math came easily. However, instead of
letting me coast, Mme Kelly provided me with extra problems to challenge me. Rist (1972)
speaks of how teachers spend more time with high achievers. As a teacher, it can be easy to fall
into the trap of ignoring the unsuccessful, apathetic students to focus on those who have bright
futures. When volunteering in her classroom, I noticed Mme Kelly circulating to all the students.
There were no apparent discriminations and I observed that the students seemed engaged and had
a sense of security. In the right environment with clear expectations, students are equipped with
all the right tools for success.
Once students are set up to thrive in their education, they need to master their skills. This
mastering happens through practice and the application of knowledge. Brophy (2001) says that
skills practiced to a peak of smoothness and automaticity tend to be retained indefinitely,
whereas skills that are mastered only partially tend to deteriorate (p.21). I noticed that Mme
Kelly applies this concept in the classroom and with the basketball team. For example, every
basketball practice we would do layups and foul shots for twenty minutes to perfect these basic
skills of the game. During these drills, Mme Kelly would correct our form and give us advice, to
avoid each player from habituating bad form. She also applies this concept in her classroom by
providing the students with numerous worksheets, suggested exercises from the textbook and
practice exams. While volunteering, I observed that she spent less time lecturing, leaving more
time to work in class. Consequently, students could ask each other or Mme Kelly if they had
problems. Additionally, Brophy (2001) recommends that feedback should be informative rather
than evaluative, helping students to assess their progress (p.22). In her math class, Mme Kelly
would always provide students with an answer key that shows all the work so students could see
where they made mistakes. Furthermore, she would offer to come early in the morning to review

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students work. Students are presented with many opportunities to practice and apply the
knowledge they are learning. In addition to the class environment and communicated
expectations, these students are given everything they need to enjoy learning and to flourish at
school.
To compliment my essay, I have made a short video with a collection of pictures
involving Mme Kelly with captions that I feel answer the question: What makes a good teacher?
There is no right answer to that question, however, there are habits teachers can develop which
really set them apart. The three teaching concepts presented in my essay are building blocks for
becoming a good teacher. For example, I describe teachers as gardeners, and students as plants.
Teachers need to take time to care for their students and want them to grow. Additionally, they
need to immerse students in a good environment, provide them with lots of knowledge filled
nutrients, expect them to grow over the year and give them a chance to bloom! Mme Kellys
personality, teaching style and character would answer my question of What Makes a Good
Teacher? and she is definitely a role model as I prepare to take on the title of teacher.
Mme Kellys devotion to teaching and her students is very apparent when analyzing the
different techniques she uses in her classroom and with the teams she coaches. Considering that
she is married with two young boys, she obviously has a very busy schedule. However, she
volunteers her time coaching and goes the extra mile to help her students. She clearly exhibits a
teacher who creates a caring learning environment, establishes expectations of potential and
offers opportunity for practice and application. Her efforts do not go unnoticed and she is an
excellent example for all teachers. As I go into my first field experience and start getting ready to
become a teacher, I will keep Mme Kellys great example in mind. Furthermore, I will keep my
eyes open for how these teaching concepts are applied, and what other concepts are bringing

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teachers from average to great. With students education completely in our hands, as teachers
have the power to do amazing things - what an amazing career to have!

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Brophy, J. (2001). Generic aspects of effective teaching. In M.C. Wang and H.J. Walberg
(Eds.), Tomorrows teachers (pp.3-45) Richmond, CA: McCutchan.

Gottfredson, D. C. (1995). Increasing Teacher Expectations for Student Achievement. The


Journal Of Educational Research, 3(88), 155-163.

Larrivee, B. (2000). Creating Caring Learning Communities. Contemporary Education,


71(2), 18.

Raudenbush, S.W. (1984). Magnitude of teacher expectancy effects on pupil IQ as a


function of the credibility of expectancy induction: A synthesis of findings from the eighteen
experiments. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(1), 85-97.

Rist, R.C. (1972). Social distance and social inequality in a ghetto kindergarten
classroom. Urban Education, 7, 241-260.