How do you know your teacher is good?
Updated: Oct 25
Looking at examples of good and bad teaching is extraordinarily useful because in our everyday lives, whether as associates, friends or parents, we are frequently teachers and we are frequently learners.
Consider this: we will have friends who listen carefully when we talk, and friends who talk over us when we're talking; we will have friends who express interest in what we are doing, and friends who look sleepy when we talk about something important to us.
We will have friends who are highly competitive and think more about winning than they do about what our benefit is; we will have friends who are very careful, and friends who are very loose; we will have friends who are very good models of behaviour, and friends whose behaviour is what we probably most want to avoid; we will have friends who will tell us not to think about things, and friends who will encourage us to explore the many interesting options there are in the world; and we will have friends who will affirm our hobbies and interests, and friends who think many other things are more important.
There is really very little difference between a good friend and a good teacher; except that generally, good teachers work much harder on the quality of the understanding and motivation of their students than our friends do.
Such is the job of the exceptional teacher.
But let's make sure that we're clear on the boundaries and look at what we regard are the essentials of a good teacher and answer 'How do you know your teacher is good?'
1. Teachers need to be expert in their subject area - we know this from our own experience as students when we feel that we can go to our teacher and get information or guidance that we would not be able to get ourselves. This encourages our growth.
An average teacher knows enough to answer questions from the textbook.
2. Teachers must know a great deal about how students learn. This ranges from how they give instructions and how they adapt texts and tasks to suit an appropriate challenge level for a particular learner; to knowing about motivation as it effects individuals; to being a comprehensively good leader who is capable of motivating a classroom; to knowing how to model and encourage the use of learning strategies; to knowing how to develop and implement suitably individual planning schedules; to being clearly well organised, and to have a very good memory.
An average teacher knows how to display control and get through the lesson plan.
3. Exceptional teachers will be expert in formative assessment and know how, through questioning and feedback techniques, to guide the learner in their path towards greater competence.
An average teacher knows how to set tests and tell students the results.
4. Exceptional teachers will have a very rich array of resource materials which they can reference to provide opportunities and challenges to meet their learners’ needs.
An average teacher knows the textbooks that are recommended for study.
5. And, of course, a great teacher is also a friend who is genuinely interested in their learners’ life and future.
An average teacher is someone who crams in the learning and then goes home.
There is more to being a good teacher, and we will get to that in other blogs. For now, remember when you are with your colleagues, friends, family or students that you have opportunities to demonstrate being a good teacher, and a good friend.
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