WHAT IS A
| What makes a good teacher?
It seems that universities and colleges have been struggling with this
question for years and have continually experimented with new techniques,
theories, and equipment in an effort to answer the question. For
those of us who have been through one or two generations of students, the
answer we know, is not in techniques, theories and equipment or in changes
in curriculum, for many concepts used today are now a part of the system
for the second time.
Good teaching lies in the
ability to reach students and motivate them to learn, regardless of their
background or ability and good teachers are for the most part, born, not
made. It is the teacher who is the key to good teaching.
A survey by the American
Psychological Association of teachers who had won teaching awards at all
levels of the education system, reported that the teachers surveyed agreed
on several common aspects of what makes a good teacher.
The first of these was
No one would disagree that passion is important in every job and that the
most successful people are passionate about their role. Good teachers
are excited about learning and that excitement spreads to those whom they
teach. A child who feels the passion of the teacher will be motivated
to learn and will feel that learning is important to the teacher and therefore
What we read and hear, we
forget but what we do, we understand.
Good teachers use this principle to incorporate activities, demonstrations
and role playing in their classrooms. Justin, a hearing impaired
student in grade twelve became Sir John A. MacDonald, first Prime Minister
of Canada, for his grade twelve history class. Complete with
costume and props, he outlined the National Policy. Thanks to his
wonderful teacher neither he nor his classmates will forget John A. for
a long time. Whether debating, doing skits, role-playing, taking
class trips or producing videos students remember what they actively do.
all learn what we think we need to know.
If material is not relevant to us at the time, we have no need to
know it. The child who misses a family outing due to inability to
tell the time, never had a need to know until that missed event.
After such a need becomes important the desire to learn is there.
We learn what is relevant. What better way to teach math, measurement,
or map skills than by making it useful through playing games and doing
is important and so are personal anecdotes
for through these teachers become real people, with real problems and real
lives. A joke or a story breaks the monotony and relates the point
being made to real life.
get what you expect. If you expect students
to do well and your standards are high, you will be pleased with the results.
When teachers expect students to do poorly, they do. Demanding a
lot wins respect and encourages self esteem. An easy mark means little
and does nothing to make a student feel proud of what he has accomplished.
As a "student teacher" in
1970, I wanted to encourage students to really get excited about creative
writing. I wore a a strange looking straw hat to class with an enormous
light bulb on top and unexpectedly stood on the teacher's chair to get
their attention. The stories I received from them were incredible.
By doing the
led them to open the doors to their imagination. A teacher of a grade
seven class would call upon a volunteer, usually the smallest guy in the
class, and proceed to tip him upside down to explain "reciprocal".
Do you think his students ever forgot the meaning of the word, "reciprocal"?
I have heard teachers say that it is impossible to compete with T.V., cartoons
and movies. My answer would be that good teachers dream up ways to
Going the extra mile.
Teachers who take the time to do special things to show that they care
about each individual child. The teacher who came almost daily to
visit me in the hospital and the teacher who brought clothes for a child
in our class who always appeared cold and bedraggled....how could one help
but think that those teachers cared deeply about children in their classroom.
Teachers who care take the time to attend hockey games and other events
in which their students are involved. Students know they can come to them
to just talk. Teachers who go the extra mile get involved in extra
curricular activities and enjoy it.
In addition to the qualities
listed by the APA, there are other qualities that are important.
At the top of this list would be discipline,
for without discipline we can not teach. There are those teachers
who by their very demeanor as they enter the classroom demand respect and
discipline appears to be not a problem at all. Why is this so?
It is because they have the greatest respect for their students as people
and because they are consistent in their approaches to discipline so that
students always know what is expected of them.
Good teachers, because they
know their students so well,
to their educational and emotional needs.
They treat each child differently according to those needs and rejoice
in the special skills and talents of each one, endeavoring to develop each
to its full potential. The student in high school who struggles with
history and English may one day become an excellent skilled tradesman.
The fact that he is "hands on learner" is not overlooked by a good teacher.
Unfortunately, because most teachers are teachers because they liked school
and because they did well in the more academic subjects, this is the student
who is often overlooked.
teachers give birth to good learning.
I have spoken to many parents who feel the need to get extra tutoring or
special classes for average or even above average children. Their
comment is that children do not know their basic math facts or they can't
read. It is a sad state when average children are not getting the
education they need in regular classes and parents are paying money
for them to learn in a way they should have been learning in the first
place. Good teachers accommodate students who have difficulty and
challenge those who need the challenge. Unless we have more good
teachers we will enter into a two tiered system where those who can afford
special help will pay for it and those who can't will suffer.
Amazing, isn't it that none
of these qualities has anything to do with technology .Good teachers are
good teachers inspite of technology, curriculum changes, and popular methods.
Too bad that universities and colleges do not know this and have forgotten
that personal attributes of commitment and passion have more to do with
teaching than technology.