What makes a good teacher great?
Every year around the time of Teachers’ Day (5th September), we remember our teachers who have inspired us during our school/college days and whose thoughts continue to make a lasting impact in our lives. We try and imbibe those qualities in our teaching and strive to become like them. Afterall, who doesn’t want to be a great teacher?
While teaching is a gift that seems to come quite naturally for some, others have to work overtime to achieve the great teacher status. I recollect one such experience I had at the recently held XSEED Education conference, where I saw over 75,000 teachers from across the country vying for the title of XSEED SuperTeacher 2019. The top eight of the contestants were felicitated for making a significant difference to the lives of their students and their communities. While it was really encouraging and a humble feeling to witness teaching excellence being celebrated on a national platform like this, it also got me thinking, if it is possible to pinpoint what makes a great teacher?
During my interactions with these teachers, I realized that they all had one common salient feature. They don’t look at teaching as a mere profession. They see it as a vocation, which lets them interact with children, enable mutual learning and impact children’s lives in a positive way. I tried to peep into their minds and found a kaleidoscope of colourful qualities they exhibit.
There are innumerable inherent qualities that together make a teacher great. However, I have elaborated on a few important things that I felt these teachers do differently in their classrooms.
- They embrace their potential – Great teachers know their ability to create a transformative impact on their students. Therefore, they express only positive values, such as tolerance, understanding and inclusion and it is this sense of moral purpose that drives them to the greater goal of their students’ success.
- Inspire students to aim big – We often hear students describe their favourite teachers as ‘inspiring’. To inspire is a great responsibility these teachers taken on themselves. They strive hard to learn new techniques and way of teaching to be able to inspire their students to aim higher by guiding and encouraging them, in terms of both immediate and long-term goals.
- They aren’t scared to take on new challenges – Great teachers overcome obstacles by addressing them and learning from them only to put them into practice in the future. It is a part of their growth as a teacher to learn from challenges and set an example for their students to do the same.
- They are great listeners – Children love to share their stories or experiences with their teachers. And listening to them gives them the confidence to speak up in class without any hesitation. Teachers with great listening skills are often seen as enthusiastic, understanding and supportive. Two-way interaction in the classroom is what makes for a great learning environment.
- They never stop learning – Great teachers are forever learners. What makes them a favourite with their students is the fact that they learn from their students as well and build broader perspectives on an academic as well as social level. The confidence to admit you might not be an expert at everything also helps connect with the students better.
- They are adaptive – In this fast-paced world, the ability to respond to change makes for an effective teacher. A great teacher acknowledges that each day is different in each class and she is geared to make this day as exciting as the previous day, which could be challenging, but worthwhile.
One of the speakers at the conference, Wendy Horn, who is herself an award-winning global educator and school leader from South Africa. Sharing her thoughts on what makes a teacher great, she summed up saying, “great teachers aren’t born, they are made. You can train yourselves to become a master of teaching, all it takes is a person’s willingness to undergo the training, to introspect and to fail.”
With this I summarize my thought- A good teacher inspires hope, ignites the imagination, and instils a love of learning. And the influence of great teachers remains with us for life!
XSEED works with schools as an academic partner providing a complete solution for developing 21st century skills in children. Designed and curated by over 200 strong and dedicated R&D professionals, our solutions address every aspect of your academic need – micro curriculum, teacher and leader training, books and workbooks, assessment, and technology. For more information, visit info.xseededucation.com or call us at 1800 102 7200 (toll free number)
This blog also appears under the heading “Six things successful teachers do differently. Are you among them?”