How to be a good teacher - what makes a good teacher
Who is a good teacher?
What makes a good teacher? When I look back, I find that that there were some teachers who have left an impression that still remain fresh in my memory. We may not even remember the lessons we learnt from them, but there are some things that they said and did that make an impact on us and inspire and impel us to do our best. I believe there are no hard-and-fast set of qualities that will be agreed upon by all, but most of us would agree upon some important qualities that makes a good teacher. I hope to make my list exhaustive and useful while some may remain subjective of course. In some cultures, a teacher is a revered being; the respect that is accorded to a teacher is even higher that what is given to God. In the Indian culture, the guru (or teacher) receives honour right after the parents who gave life, and even the creator God takes His place behind the Guru - The original Sanskrit saying being Matha, Pitha, Guru, Deivam ( Mother, Father, Guru and God)
"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." - William Arthur Ward
How to be a good teacher
In my opinion, a person who inspires and brings out the best in a student is a good teacher. He/she births in students a love for the subject by the way they teach it, the way they encourage the students and reward them for their effort by making an example of it to the class. The words of praise that they use, the actions that highlight the words all make for great inspiration. I remember a teacher who used to read poetry to us as children. Her voice, her expression and her enjoyment of what she read inspired me more than the poetry itself.
A teacher is one who meets the student at his / her point of need. This, I believe, should be the basic and the most important quality of a good teacher. Students are at different levels of learning, even though they may be in the same class. A teacher’s ability to reach out to each individual student at his/her level of understanding and ability to grasp, and being able to also take into consideration the background that he/she comes from is what sets him/her apart.
Qualities of a good teacher
A good teacher identifies budding talent and potential within a student and helps him / her to develop them. Such a teacher does not judge his/her student only on the merits of their academic achievements, but is able to perceptively pick out and nurture talent in areas other than academics.
A teacher who is knowledgeable and is an authority in his / her subject is always respected. Although knowledge is important, it is the ability to get down to the level of the student and help him / her rise up to a higher level of understanding by delivering the knowledge in an appropriate manner that really makes the difference.
It does not make sense to children when they learn something that seems like abstract information, having no connection with reality they live in. A teacher who makes the subject interesting by demonstrating how each concept that is taught is useful and applicable to everyday living, will foster curiosity among students and help them to understand the importance of knowing the concepts well.
A good teacher is one who makes her students think. He / she enables creative thinking and encourages students to explore, discover and find their own answers. He / she also teaches them the value of independence. Teaching students how to teach themselves is the best gift a teacher can give his / her student. A great teacher remains as a facilitator for the students to acquire knowledge and one who silently stands by, encouraging and guiding the students.
Good habits formed early in life help students to become better people. Inculcating discipline and encouraging good habits could become a great boon for students even in their adult lives. A good teacher is one who is interested in the all round development of a student.
The ability to get and retain the attention of his / her students while a lesson is in progress is very important. Employing interactive learning techniques and encouraging active learning skills which involves usage of all senses takes teaching to another level. A good teacher uses every technique and resource that is available to make learning enjoyable, but yet meaningful and effective.
Being open, receptive to new information and willing to learn always is another quality of a good teacher. Every student has something to teach the teacher, and if he/she is open to learning, they would see landmark changes in their quality of teaching.
Being passionate about his/her subject and work makes an ordinary teacher a good teacher. Passion often makes the difference between teaching and equipping people for life. The love for the subject and for her work is infectious, filling the students with similar passion and enthusiasm.
The pursuit of excellence should always drive a good teacher into expecting only the best from her students. Constantly urging them to do better without de-motivating them would be the hallmark of an excellent teacher.
A good teacher is positive and encourages creativity and curiosity among students. No question or no effort is ever belittled or ignored. Curiosity is the mother of learning. Patience to allow curiosity in an organised class room setting encourages active participation in learning.
Having respect for students no matter how small they are and treating them with fairness would be the quality of an ideal teacher. The seeds that you sow in young children will reap rich dividends as the teacher has great influence over her students.
A good teacher leads by example and qualities such as integrity and honesty in her dealings with children and their parents would be a great example for students to follow. Teachers often send wrong messages when they do not stand up for what they believe in and bow down to pressure.
Grading work neither as good nor bad but for what they are worth with specific remarks about what is useful and acceptable and what can be done to improve is a positive encouragement for students to do better. Grades only encourage competition while such comments encourage children to excel
A teacher who would go beyond the call of duty to teach children to perform to their best potential while instilling in them values of good living is not only a good teacher, but a great human being who gives to the world a great generation with an excellent future.