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What Makes a Good Teacher

March 22, 2019

If properly prepared and fully engaged, teachers have the ability to not only educate but also change the lives of their students. In order for young students to grow intellectually, they must be exposed to quality teachers within a positive school environment. There are many characteristics that are necessary in order to be an effective and great teacher. 

Understanding the Subject Manner 
Of course, it is important for teachers to understand their particular subject manner thoroughly. However, since knowledge in most subjects is constantly expanding, it is also important for teachers to continue to learn. Many teachers will take continuing education classes in order to build on their knowledge base. Networking with other teachers is also important in order to compare notes and determine what tools are effective. 

Self reflection is also key when it comes to quality teachers. Throughout the year, you should constantly ask yourself how you can improve as an instructor. What did you do well this year? What can you improve on for next year? Perhaps ask a colleague to sit in on one of your classes to gain some objective feedback. You may also want to create a survey, asking your students to evaluate your teaching methods. 

Many teachers are evaluated based on how their students perform on standardized tests. Although it is important for the students to be as prepared as possible for evaluations, a good teacher exposes children to a world outside of the confines of a state issued test. 

Understanding Various Learning Styles. 
A great teacher has the ability to break down and synthesize complicated topics and themes. Understanding the particular topic is of course important; however, kidshealth.org suggests that if a teacher cannot present the material in a way that the students can understand, then he or she is basically ineffective. The way a teacher presents information may fluctuate throughout the years depending on the individuals in that particular class. 

It is important to understand what type of learning style works best for a child. For example, are your students more visual or auditory learners? And, how can you incorporate technology and field trips into your lessons? Would a study of a relevant current event help the students retain the appropriate information? Or perhaps your students are kinesthetic learners and prefer projects or experiments instead of tests. In many cases, lectures can lose the attention of many students because they are not interactive. 

Acting as a Teacher and Mentor 
Every teacher finds themselves in the unique situation where they must take on the role of a mentor or counselor. It is important for teachers to establish themselves as a person of authority but there may be some times when a student needs advice outside of the confines of the classroom. Perhaps the student is currently being bullied or is having problems at home. In many occasions, a student will remember a good teacher years after graduating because of the guidance he or she provided outside of the classroom. 

Determining Appropriate Punishments 
Most teachers have to deal with unruly students. On many occasions, it is the same child who misbehaves and disrupts the classroom environment. Occasionally, teachers and administrators may permanently label the child as being “bad” and find punitive ways of disciplining the student, such as detention. But what happens if that child has an underlying issue and is lashing out for another reason? A good teacher will help unruly children as well as those who routinely behave. 

On other occasions, you may find that a student is having a bad day and is acting out of character. Of course, teachers should curb bad behavior immediately. However, we must all remember that everyone, even students, have bad days and that they may require a little more guidance and leniency. A good teacher may pull the student aside and inquire about their behavior. A phone call to a parent may also help students behave in classroom environments. 

Classroom Management is Key 
An effective teacher also properly manages his or her classroom. The teacher does not allow unruly students to disrupt the classroom environment. Some teachers have decided to create a set of classroom rules with students so that everyone is on the same page. Routines can also help stabilize the classroom environment. A good teacher may also choose to decorate the classroom with the students work to make the environment more lively. 

Check for Understanding 
A good teacher assigns relevant and appropriate amounts of homework each night. Homework is designed to reinforce what was taught in school that day and help students retain pertinent information. 

Quizzes and tests can also be another effective way to check for understanding. With assessments, you can not only gage if the student is retaining the information, but also see if your particular teaching style is working. Students tend to enjoy it when teachers take the time to write feedback on their work. Reward students for excellence while also tell them particular ways to improve. 

Make Yourself Available to Parents and Students 
In order to effectively teach a child, parents must remain an active participant in the process. If a child does not do his or her homework regularly or has not performed well on a test, informing the parents may encourage the student to work harder. However, some parents work during the day and it can be difficult for them to come to the school. If this is the case, then a good teacher may ask the parent for a phone conference or notify them via email if any problems should arise. Perhaps the parent can help the student prepare for tests by quizzing him or her at night. Or you can suggest to the parent that a particular student may need some outside tutoring in order to raise his or her grade. 

Some students may not understand a particular concept and require additional support after class. On many occasions, teachers may provide some support or office hours before school, at lunch and even after school. 

Set High Expectations for All Students 
Greatschools.org suggests that setting high expectations can really encourage a student to reach his or her full potential. Not all students will arrive on the first day at the same level academically. However, make sure every student knows that you are there to support them and that you expect them to work hard. 

On certain occasions, teachers should act more like facilitators of discussion instead of a lecturers. Instead of providing the students with all of the answers, find ways to allow them to arrive at the solution on their own. Setting goals and objectives can also be a great way to encourage independent though. A good teacher builds confidence within a student, encouraging them to believe that they can achieve positive results. Reassurance of their potential is also important so if a student does well on a project or test, a good teacher will congratulate them. 

A great teacher can really change a child’s life. Not only will he or she prepare the student academically, but a quality teacher can build self confidence and instill stability. Being a teacher is not just a job, but a rewarding career that can have lasting effects on a student.

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