In his blog post, "What Makes a Master Teacher?" George Couros lists what makes a master teacher. Are there any qualities you would add? Or remove? Which one resonates the most with you?
For me, I tried to ensure I got to know students on a personal level. Having taught middle school English Language Arts, it wasn't uncommon to have 150-175 students walk through my door every day. It was critical that they not see themselves as just another warm body in a seat, but rather as an important contributing member to the class.
I'll admit that I did better with some students than others. But I think that, overall, the effort paid off. By knowing my students, I was able to tailor curriculum to meet both their needs and their interests. For example, one year I had a student who had a poor assignment completion rate. He hated essay writing (and really, who doesn't?). But when I learned he wanted to be a rap artist, I let him write some of his literary responses as a rap instead of an essay. Lo and behold, he had a lot to say, and it was good, too! One year we studied the Zoot Suit Riots because the large percentage of African- American students in my class expressed an interest in it after hearing the song on the radio.
I by no means would consider myself a "Master Teacher" and wonder if any teacher ever feels they have truly reached master status. I look back now, after having been out of the classroom for a few years, and see so many missed opportunities to do even more, but I'm proud of the work I did to connect with students.