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Qualities of a great teacher

Updated on March 28, 2015

Do you remember a lot of your teachers' names?

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Teaching is an extremely important profession and one that puts young people on a course to be successful.. Most teachers do a good job of preparing students for the next test, school year, or the material, but very few teachers impact the way of life of their students in a variety of profound ways.

When I think back to my schooling life, I don't remember most of my teachers. Granted there has been lot of teachers I have been around over the years, so I wouldn't expect myself to remember every single teacher ever, but there is a correlation between the teachers I have more memories of and remember more about them and the quality of their teaching.

Whether it's my fourth grade teacher, my high school history teacher, or my middle school PE teacher. I remember these people for a variety of reasons, but not all them are good.

So, for me, I either remember the really good teachers or the really bad teachers.

Bad teacher two

The second memory comes from middle school math when I for whatever reason had a paper clip. I was bending the wires are because I always had to be doing something other than sitting still and listening. My teacher called me out randomly and said to throw that away because that could be considered a weapon.

That was a really frustrating moment because it was embarrassing because of the way she called attention to that and the fact she called attention to it at all was pretty dumb in the first place. If I had been poking other people or looking like I was going to poke other people with it, I would have understood, but mindlessly playing with a paperclip shouldn't raise the alarm like it did with her.

Bad teachers

The really bad teachers didn't treat me horrible or not teach the material well. The problems I have had with teachers of the years have been with them misdiagnosing my behavior. And then critiquing that behavior in front of the whole class, which is usually a really bad thing to do.

Two instances come to mind. The first one being in third grade when we were all sitting on the class rug listening to the teacher read when I farted. Gasp, I know, some pretty earth shattering stuff. Being in third grade, I chuckled, along with a couple of other kids in the class. Heck, I would probably still laugh today. She got mad at me, took me out in the hall with the couple of other kids that laughed and told us that is was wrong to laugh and that if I needed to fart, I should just step out of the classroom.

My only thoughts going through my head then, were of confusion. How was I supposed to get up and leave the classroom without raising any questions? And if I asked to step out to fart, that would have the same response as me farting in class.

That incident and the fact I got a C in math for one quarter made me really not like this particular teacher and still not like her at all.

Good teacher

I'm sure all of you have had at least one great teacher or at the very least know of one great teacher. Most of them do similar things, but they are they own unique people with unique ways to teach and to interact with students.

But what makes these teachers unique makes them similar in the much the same way. I remember the great teachers vividly. I remember how they taught, their mannerisms, and the type of classroom they had.

My first memory of a great teacher I experienced was my fourth grade teacher. It might have been because he was the first guy teacher I had in my school career, but it more likely that he was just a great teacher.

I tend to think back to all the multiplication timed tests we would take and how he would take it with us and race us. I always like when teachers did would do the tests before giving them to us or doing them with us like my fourth grade teacher did with those timed math tests.

That example really shows just the kind of teacher that he was during my time in his class. He created an atmosphere that made the students want to learn and to perform better. Maybe I was a unique case, but I like to think that he had a positive effect on others as well as myself.

Good teacher two

Another teacher that stands out to me is a teacher that I had twice in high school for a history and government class. He had a simple set up to his classroom. We never had any big projects or anything, but did a lot of work in his class. Every test had an essay, which I actually really liked because they tended to include some higher order thinking. So the classwork we got in class helped me to like both of his classes.

He taught mostly from a lecture and would let us work in groups and alone on various worksheets. This may have not been the best practice for teaching, but it worked for him and he made every class unique and interesting. I have had other teachers teach with similar methods that he used and those classes were extremely boring, but he made it work because he was passionate about the material he presented.

One of the other reasons that I remember this teacher and aspire to be more like him is that he wasn't afraid to express his opinions on issues and talk about how he felt about different things. I believe he talked about various political and social issues because he wanted to instill an interest in the students. For me, it worked. I had never paid much attention to politics or social issues in my younger years for probably no other reason that I didn't experience any effects of them directly.

But now things like gay rights are things that I enjoy talking about a lot and am quite passionate about. I credit him with developing that interest in me. I realized that the topics he talked about actually mattered and effected me and the people around me. I found a passion that wasn't just athletics.

What the good teachers have in common

Being able to relate to students to is a critical skill that I believe all really good teachers need to be able to do. I believe this is something that teachers can be taught to do better as they learn to become teachers, but there is an innate part that is necessary to have in order to be good at being able to relate to other students and people in general. Passion also plays into being able to relate to students. When a teacher is passionate about the material they are teaching, it becomes easier to relate the material to the students.

I believe these skills enhance other skills that teachers need to have in order to be effective at their professions. If a teacher is passionate about what they want to do, they will work to create an environment and gather materials that help to relate to the students and are effective for them to learn the material. They will be organized and have a plan for each and every class. In short, they will be better overall teachers.


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