What makes a good teacher?

What makes a good teacher?

Let me start by saying that there is no right answer. Learners differ in the way they learn and a good teacher depends on individual learners stand point.  I remember that the teachers who left a salient impact on me were different. Each had his own footprint on my education in his own way. This doesn’t mean that there are not any common characteristics of good teachers.

But first, what is it that all teachers must be able to do?

Teachers job!

I think we need to know the things that all teachers must be able to do before we can really decide what makes a good teacher.

The teachers tasks are various and interdisciplinary.For some s/he is the sage in the cage, the know-all. For others teachers are facilitators of learning. Teaching also requires some knowledge in psychology, communication, sociology and you name it… A teacher must first obtain professional qualifications  from a university, training center or college. These professional qualifications may include the study of pedagogy, the science of teaching. Teachers may use a lesson plan to facilitate student learning, providing a course of study which covers a standardized curriculum.

Here is a list of what a teacher must be able to do.

  • A teacher knows the subject matter and is ready to be an eternal learner as learning is an ongoing process.  A teacher learns by teaching.
  • She/he has sufficient knowledge of methods and the approaches.
  • She/he understands the learning process and creates a classroom environment and daily activities which promote learning
  • She/he Knows the curriculum and is able to make meaningful connections to learning activities which deepen understandings of curriculum outcomes, which make connections to multiple subjects , and which bring in real world contexts to increase the frequency and depth of instruction
  • She/he is aware of  students interests, learning styles, and ability levels. This helps the teacher-student relationship to be strengthened and allows for differentiated instruction efficiently and effectively.
  • She/he is able to motivate students since motivation is a primordial key to learning.
  • She/he builds a good relationship with parents.
  • she/he knows that teaching the curriculum is just a starting point to the whole-person development of students. The outcome of education is not to fill students minds with details but to arouse their creativity. Plutarch  said “a mind is a fire to be kindled, not a vessel to be filled.”
  • For those who teach in elementary or who teach multiple subjects in higher grades teaching means they  have to be a jack of all trades.

A good teacher?

In addition to teaching a contextual body of  organized knowledge and  contributing  to the creation of  good  people/citizens who understand the values of a modern society, a good teacher is above all the lighthouse that guides learners towards excellence.  What good is there in teaching a body of knowledge if learners can’t relate it to the real world? What we should focus on is not  the amount of information we impart but how this information will be utilized by learners to build mental capacity and  help themselves learn to follow directions – the things they will  need to hold down jobs, raise families, and work together to build and improve communities. The aim is to help learners become autonomous, able to learn for the rest of their lives, adapt to changing environments  and ready to make changes in their lives.

A difficult job!

Yes sure! It’s a challenging task. On the one hand we have to trigger the students curiosity, motivate them, guide them, facilitate their learning, unveil to them the secret of autonomy and prepare them to be good citizens.  But on the other hand we need to be neutral , just planting the seed and leaving the flower to blossom independently.  The true teacher defends his pupils against his own personal influence. What a marvellous and challenging endeavor – building builders, men and women of tomorrow.


To conclude here is a  quote by Donald D. Quinn who summarizes eloquently the great task of teachers as follows:

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 jobAll in all, the good teacher is the one who prepares the future citizens, the doctors, the lawyers, the technicians – those who build countries and nations. His true task is building builders

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