I took a call yesterday from the finest teacher I ever had.
He is now 81.
And I’m 66.
He first knew me when I was 12.
Question is what makes a teacher great?
At the time, all I knew is that I loved him to bits, and wanted him to be pleased at my work.
Perhaps love is the key!
I now have stepdaughters, teachers, who fall into the same category as did he.
Their pupils would die rather than upset them, as would I rather than have upset him.
So what makes them all so good?
1. Great teachers respect pupils
In a great teacher’s classroom, each person’s ideas and opinions are valued.
Pupils feel safe to express their feelings and learn to respect and listen to others. The teacher creates a welcoming learning environment for all pupils.
2. Great teachers create a sense of community and belonging
The mutual respect in a great teacher’s classroom provides a supportive and collaborative environment. In this small community, there are rules to follow and jobs to be done and each student is aware that he or she is an important, integral part of the group.
A great teacher lets students know that they can be depended upon.
3. Great teachers are warm, accessible, enthusiastic and caring
They are approachable. Pupils can go to them with any problems or concerns.
Great teachers possess good listening skills and take time out of their busy schedules for anyone who needs them. If the teacher is having a bad day, no one ever knows. The teacher leaves personal baggage outside the school doors.
4. Great teachers set high expectations for all students
They realize the expectations they have for pupils greatly affect their achievement.
They know that students generally give to teachers as much or as little as is expected of them.
5. Great teachers have a love of learning and inspire students with a passion for education. They constantly renew themselves as a professional on their quest to provide students with the highest quality of education possible. They have no fear of learning new teaching strategies or incorporating new technologies into lessons, and are the ones who are willing to share what they’ve learned with colleagues.
6. Great teachers are skilled leaders
Different from administrative leaders, effective teachers focus on shared decision-making and teamwork, as well as on community building. This great teacher conveys this sense of leadership to students by providing opportunities for each of them to assume leadership roles.
7. Great teachers “shift-gears” and are flexible when a lesson isn’t working
This teacher assesses his teaching throughout the lessons and finds new ways to present material to make sure that every student understands the key concepts.
8. Great teachers collaborate with colleagues on an ongoing basis
Rather than thinking of themselves as weak they ask for suggestions or help. They view collaboration as a way to learn from a fellow professional. A great teacher uses constructive criticism and advice as an opportunity to grow as an educator.
9. Great teachers maintain professionalism in all areas
From personal appearance to organizational skills and preparedness for each day, their communication skills are exemplary, whether speaking with an administrator, a pupil, or a colleague. The respect that the great teacher receives because of their professional manner is obvious.