The Mark Of A Great Teacher And How To Become One

Great And Inspiring Teacher

They said that teaching creates all other professions; that teachers are the one who touch the future. They said that it is also one of those rare profession that affects eternity because as a teacher, you can never tell where your influence stops. Ataturk, the founder of modern-day Turkey said that “good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others”.

There is one thing that you really cannot seperate from this calling once chosen: they are times that it will seems downright frustrating. You walked into the classroom with lofty ideals and then the illusion is broken as you realize that making a difference in the lives of these youngsters is tougher than you expected. You found yourself disillusioned, powerless or even sometimes … angry.

Teaching is like tending a garden, and you would expect to be pricked by thorns in your attempt to gather the roses. Yes, it can be difficult but we know that there are those special teachers who touched our lives so much when we are young that no matter where life takes us, we always remember them. We seek to be like them or carry within us the gems they planted.

But to be one of those special teachers that are eternally fondly remembered, we need to understand what they make the special ones unique. We must find out the qualities that marked them out as inspiring and good teachers. We need to find out whether these be cultivated to become part of the tools that we bring into the classroom?

Let’s see some of these as laid out by MARYA JAN of LifeHack.org

Relinquishing Control

“A good teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.” – Thomas Carruthers

The teacher who takes on the role of a facilitator rather than the authority is an absolutely joy to learn from. They understand that their job is not to be the keeper of knowledge, but a vessel to pass it on.

They are not here to dictate, but to encourage. They are the best of them all.

Constantly Learn On The Job

Fancy degrees don’t produce fantastic teachers, although the formal know-how of theory and practicum does help.

People who are naturally good at teaching come across like they were born to do this. They hardly need instruction on how to teach others, and yet they are willing to learn and continue to hone their skills in the classroom. Much like doctors or mechanics, they get to practice and hone their skills as they work.

Knowing When To Take The Gloves Off

People often expect teachers to be great entertainers, but you know what? That isn’t part of their job description.

Teachers need to do their jobs, which is to make their students leave the classroom with more knowledge and skills they came with; their main goal is to make you learn.

Sometimes, they need to be tough, or teach lessons that are boring or dry. But they do it anyway. They know that learning is not all fun, and that sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and plod on regardless. They’re not performers, and are not there to entertain you. They’re there to do their job.

Having The Gut To Admit That They Don’t Know Everything

In Plato’s Apology, Socrates after having a discourse with somebody said:

“τούτου μὲν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐγὼ σοφώτερός εἰμι· κινδυνεύει μὲν γὰρ ἡμῶν οὐδέτερος οὐδὲν καλὸν κἀγαθὸν εἰδέναι, ἀλλ’ οὗτος μὲν οἴεται τι εἰδέναι οὐκ εἰδώς, ἐγὼ δέ, ὥσπερ οὖν οὐκ οἶδα, οὐδὲ οὄιμαι· ἔοικα γοῦν τούτου γε σμικρῷ τινι αὐτῷ τούτῳ σοφώτερος εἶναι, ὅτι ἃ μή οἶδα οὐδὲ οἴομαι εἰδέναι。

Which roughly translates to:

I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know.”

A good teacher will not walk into a classroom with the attitude of Mr Know-It-All; that there is nothing left for them to learn. He knows that each day offers him the opportunity to enrich the lives of his students and them to enrich his. The students—teacher relationship is dynamic and co-dependent.

True teachers are learners first.

He Builds On What Is Available

A great teacher has incredible knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject matter they are teaching. Teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. The miracle is that at times the good ones accomplish this impossible task.

Not only do they have thorough knowledge of the curriculum and other standards that they must uphold in the classroom, they strive to exceed them.

Engaging And Entertaining

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

They have a special kind of energy. They are prepared to answer questions and keep the material interesting for the students, and are masters of explanation.

They Know That Every Kid Is A Potential Treasure

“If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.” – Donald D. Quinn

Great teachers treat each student differently and they don’t label today’s learners as worse then yesteryears’. They know times have changed and students are constantly bombarded by hundreds and thousands of messages competing for their attention.

Diversity and disability makes for an interesting classroom experience, although not necessarily an easy one for the instructor. Teachers know this also and work with it. They will never call anyone a lost cause. They are confident that anyone will do well with the right kind of support.

“A good teacher must be able to put himself in the place of those who find learning hard.” – Eliphas Levi

You won’t catch them whining about how difficult it is to teach today.

Easily Accessible And Approchable

“The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth.” – Dan Rather

Would you expect a teacher to know every student on a personal level? That’s not realistic, but what is possible is that the teacher cares for every student in the classroom. Great teachers may not know each child personally, but they do have compassion for all of their students, and their influence far exceeds their job description.

Masters At Making Difficult Things Seems Easy

The average teacher explains complexity; the gifted teacher reveals simplicity.

Great teachers create an environment that is ideal for learning and fosters positive behaviours. They don’t discipline, but manage; they don’t dictate but encourage. They create a place where each learner operates on a sense of belonging, and then they start their teaching.

They don’t stick to tried and tested approaches—they mix things up and take things up a notch every time.

True Judge Of Their Ability

“A master can tell you what he expects of you. A teacher, though, awakens you own expectations.” – Patricia Neal

Teachers do expect a lot from you, as they want you to do your best. However, the best ones measure success in terms of progress, not by the number of As you are getting.

They Are Passionate

“The mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates, the great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward

We all want to learn from teachers who are not only passionate about teaching, but passionate about life.

They aren’t just interested in their area of expertise; they are interesting people to hang out with. They will talk to you about the upset at the Footy final or will exchange comments on recent trip taken by the prime minister. You can pretty much talk to them about anything, and they would be interested, just as long as you are.

To Inspire, They Leave The Spotlight For The Students

Do you remember how you felt when you got a star or a sticker when you did something good as a child? How about a mention and a certificate from your teacher at the school assembly? Did you have a teacher in college who put up your assignment and told everyone that it was the standard he was looking for?

Did you get a little embarrassed? Sure you did, but didn’t it also make your heart leap for joy? Of course it did. We all adore teachers who respect us for putting in our best, going the extra mile and doing more than what was required.

Great teachers applaud effort and progress, rather than measuring how good you are at something. That alone speaks volumes about their character.

Teach For All The Right Reasons

“No man can be a good teacher unless he has feelings of warm affection toward his pupils and a genuine desire to impart to them what he believes to be of value.” – Bertrand Russell

The best teachers don’t get into this profession for money, but because they want to make a difference.

A special teacher is very wise, and sees tomorrow in every child’s eyes. And if thus wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind. ~Kahlil Gibran

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