What is a Good Teacher?

Q.
I am wondering if I have the makings of a good teacher and so I would like to ask you what the qualities of a good English teacher are. Also, I wonder if those qualities are the same or different for teachers of other subjects.

N.Y., teacher
Okinawa

I remember having a discussion about this at a teachers’ meeting my first year of teaching English at Brentwood Junior High School in New York. We all agreed on one point: that the teacher should be passionate about his/her subject. We disagreed on another point: that the teacher should think that his/her subject was more important than any other subject. Now that I am older and wiser, I do believe the teacher should be passionate. I also think that all subjects are equally important; it up to the students to embrace the one(s) which channel into their talents and prompt them to excel; the teacher cannot dictate which subject takes precedence over another.

From my years of experience and observing, I would venture to say the teacher should have the ability to:

* Perceive/read the level and needs of students.

* Present subject matter is an easy-to-understand way.

* Gain and build on students’ trust.

* Find strengths in each and every student and acknowledge them in public and private.

* Ignite and maintain the interest of the class.

* Gear lessons to the appropriate level of students and know when and how to raise the learning notch higher little by little.

* Be prepared for class but be able to allow for transition at any moment for any reason.

* Teach to the middle of the class, helping weaker/slower students and giving responsibility and extra activities to the faster ones.

* Respect all students, no matter their age, learning curve or individual differences.

* Establish and nurture relationships using class activities as a catalyst.

* Remember what it was like to be a child.

I also think these qualities are basically the same for any subject. Of course, lesson needs to be presented in different ways in accordance with the subject matter.