Opinion | Letters: What makes a teacher great?
What makes a teacher great?
I have had the honor of witnessing a number of great teachers. Great teachers who work for endless hours on lessons, understand the complexities of student engagement and tirelessly strive for the success of every student. I have also seen great teachers who effortlessly conduct an engaged class on any subject, inspire curiosity and wonder, and care for the whole child. Great teachers have hues of qualities spanning the vast spectrum of great characteristics.
There are a number of characteristics of greatness and yet, surprisingly, different scales in which these qualities are weighed and valued. Read any article, survey or study and you’ll find an array of characteristics touted to be the top-10 qualities of a great teacher. Any effort to create a definitive list of greatness will inevitably fall short, because great teachers are as unique as the students they teach.
Since our teachers spend the most amount of time with our students, I decided to confer with them. We asked some students which characteristics they thought makes a teacher great. Some of the most frequent answers were: kind, compassionate and humorous personality, ability to engage students in learning, effectively teach lessons, dedicated to students and also a learner, themselves.
As diverse as our students, so were the answers. After all of the conversations and interviews, I came to the sober conclusion that there is no single answer to the question of, “What makes a teacher great?” Yet, after some time meditating on our students’ insight, underlying each answer, was a nugget of truth. The common denominator to every great teacher is that the teacher was present in their students’ lives.
Being present in the lives of students is the basis for being a great teacher. Engaging physically, emotionally and mentally is essential in being present, which cultivates a positive environment where relationships blossom and students are empowered. Confident students know that it’s OK to ask questions and to make mistakes. They understand how to show integrity and perseverance and how to fully be him/herself, surrounded by classmates who show acceptance and compassion. Being present will foster a number of great qualities in students and enhance their education.
Teaching is one of the most demanding jobs of any industry today. It requires a broad and deep knowledge of subject matter, curriculum and standards; a caring attitude, enthusiasm and a love of learning; knowledge of classroom management techniques; and a passion to spark curiosity and make a difference in children’s lives.
To those who have never taught, it is difficult to comprehend the dynamic and diverse qualities of great teachers. To our great teachers here at Summit School District, you are great because you are fully present for each of our children, everyday.
Summit School District communication specialist
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