I’m just not into James Joyce. I never managed to read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I’m told it’s an awakening and rebellion against religious conventions—not the stuff of dramatic import that I would find intriguing. One basic Joyce theme does ring true, the notion that an epiphany can dramatically alter the human spirit in quick order. That belief got me thinking.
What is the ‘Portrait of an Effective Teacher’? This isn’t a puzzling question. It’s actually quite mundane and straightforward.
Watch teachers and students in classrooms but tune everybody out. Plug your ears and forget what is being said and focus on the process, actions, body language, and activities. Study the ‘portrait’ of the ‘artist’ becoming immersed in the content, instructions, and verbal exchanges.
Is the instructor dominating the discussion? Are the students at all engaged? Is the instructor simply authoritative rather than facilitating and, perhaps, theatrical? How are students of different cultures and of different learning abilities accommodated? Are all registered students present? Participatory lessons encourage attendance. Lecturing emboldens students to pursue self-study. Is the instructor promoting moments of epiphany that bring a wow-factor to students’ analysis of a situation? Are students learning from problem-solving activities?
Lots of questions indeed but sometimes we can discern much more by studying the brush strokes than by regurgitating the content specifications of a painting, don’t you think?