To find a good shepherd, you need to define their role. If they claim to be this type of teacher, they must have two attributes hands down:
(1) Your educational experience is one of their top priorities
(2) They have the educational experience mapped out
The first one is BIG, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for teachers to accomplish this one. Teachers work under the constant stress of evaluations which have dictated everything from pay grade to promise of future employment. There is more stress than ever on teachers now, simply because now it isn’t just about some one graduating, but it’s about having a job tomorrow in an economy that is seeing regular unleaded for $3.50 a gallon. This drives teachers to become friends (like going drinking with them even though they are all under aged or dating the students) with their students rather than becoming friendly (approachable, humorous, willing and helpful) and mentors. This can lead students to think that they are having the best educational experience of their lives. It is easy to trick this generation into thinking this because our current generation doesn’t want a mentor–they want someone who is a peer. A peer does not have the authority to correct you, and if you so choose to, you can disregard the wisdom of a peer based off of the fact that they are no older or more experienced than you.
A shepherd teacher guides their students towards understanding and enlightenment. It’s always on their mind. And when they encounter students who show very little interest in this experience they are heart broken like an artist whose newest creation has been rejected by art critics. The classroom is not a pastime to them–teaching is passion and so are the people.
Secondly, they have a plan as to how they are going to get you from the first day of class to the last. They always seem to know where they are going with material and they can link it to the rest of your studies. They can make your material relevant, and they are always making you think, because if they can get you to think then they can get you involved in the journey that they have prepared. Part 3 coming soon…