What makes a great teacher; an experiment…

 I feel that the topic of teachers is one I can write about with a degree of confidence as not only was I a student (once upon a time…!) but I also happen to have worked in the Education System numerous times.

For me personally, the number one thing that makes a teacher great is their sense of humour. This may seem trivial and almost irrelevant to learning but I feel it is of vital importance.

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the opinion of a high school student …

Throughout the years, I found that I learn better when my teacher is funny, because this makes me like them, not be intimidated by them and never want to miss their lesson. The latter is a big deal to be honest – you have to be present to learn and I have been known to skive a lesson or two because of dull and serious teachers. Likewise I have been known to actually shed tears of frustration for being too ill to attend a class delivered by a hilarious teacher!

Incidentally, when I read todays challenge, I thought it might be fun to ask students I know (of various ages) the same question and see what they come up with. So, I conducted a little experiment of my own if you like, and I present you the results in the form of the photographs scattered throughout this post.

The good news is, of course, that a couple of them agreed with me in that being funny is a must in a teacher! Result!

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the opinion of a 10 year old …

I feel that being approachable makes you a wonderful teacher. Education is an emotional and stressful rollercoaster that often takes its toll on you. Almost makes me wonder if the word ‘studying’ ending in ‘dying’ is a mere coincidence. I think not…

Because truthfully, when the going gets tough at school, that really is what you feel like sometimes! Thus, it is crucial that you feel you are able to approach your teacher and ask for help or offer an explanation on why you have not been focused in class lately.

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the opinion of a college student …

This leads in nicely to my next trait for being a great teacher which is that you have to, have to care.

When I was 17, it wasn’t a good year I’m afraid (sorry Sinatra!) I went through a bunch of stuff that meant I was underperforming in my favourite subject, taught to me by two teacherS that year, English. Anyway, all one teacher did was lecture me about how disappointed he was in my falling grades, particularly after such a good start to the year, he never asked why, simply stated his dissatisfaction.

My other teacher, however, took me for a walk and said, ‘talk to me.’ And talk I did. He was so understanding and extended my deadlines and occasionally caught up with me after class until I got out of that dark phase and my grades picked up!

What amazes me, is that he technically didn’t have to do that, it wasn’t in his contract. He got paid to quote Blake, recite Shakespeare and go home. But instead of doing just that, he wanted to make a significant difference to someone. He took his duty of care towards his students very seriously and without him I would have failed that year.

So out of those two teachers, guess which one I still remember?

I guess for me as a student then, sense of humour, approachability and being caring were the three essential qualities that had to be present in a good teacher. But those are only three in a million. Having worked in schools I now realize that teachers have to be firm, intelligent, confident, challenging, articulate, passionate … understanding towards those especially vulnerable children and the list goes on.

I have been blessed with some amazing (and not so amazing) teachers. Three will always stay with me. One that constantly made me laugh, I got an A in his subject, I mean there has to be some correlation there. Another that taught me that the sky was the limit in a place where you were encouraged to be practical rather than be a dreamer. The final one was, ironically, strict, never showed me any attention or gave me any reason to believe I was special. But whenever I went to her for help she always made sure that by the time I left her room I was beyond confident in what I was doing.

Whenever I think about teachers, I immediately remember an Arabic saying I often used to hear growing up, which loosely translated means; ‘Whoever has taught me one word, for him I am a slave for life.’

This phrase is guilty of hyperbole and should not be taken in the literal sense, it is not telling you to worship anyone. Rather it simply exists to illustrate the importance of knowledge (after all knowledge is power) and the respect that should therefore be given to said knowledge giver; the teacher.

 This post was inspired by todays Daily Prompt

Thank you for reading.

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