There are several characteristics that all good teachers have in common. They are patience; concern for their students; willingness to adapt, and; knowledge of the subject being taught. If these characteristics are lacking, a teacher cannot be an effective educator.Patience may be the most important characteristic of all. It is most important for teachers of subjects in science and mathematics. Some students can comprehend this subject material with minimal effort, while others may require more extensive explanations that may have to be repeated a number of times. As a college professor, I have had more students express anxiety over having to take basic college algebra over any other subject. When questioned about the reasons for this anxiety, the overwhelming response was that their high school math teachers were terrible. Their main critique of math teachers was their inability to explain solutions to math problems in a clear and concise manner. When these students would continue to state their lack of understanding, the teachers would lose their patience, and simply tell them to go home and practice more problems. When some students requested extra help, their teachers informed them they were unavailable for tutoring after class.
Teachers of math and science generally have extensive knowledge of the subject matter they teach. Most were able to master those subjects with minimal effort. Some, however, lack the capability of appreciating the fact that each student may display different levels of aptitude for different subjects. A good teacher will possess this understanding, and be willing to take the time to reach those students who don’t display strong aptitudes in certain subjects. Reaching these students may help them overcome their anxieties over certain subjects, and may even stimulate greater interest in those students to further their education in math and science.
Concern for their students is another required characteristic for being a good teacher. This concern should not only apply to interested learners who actively participate in class. It is more important to show concern for those students who sit in the back of the class, and act disinterested. Teachers who show interest in their students will be rewarded with students showing improved performance on exams and class assignments.
Willingness to adapt to different classroom situations is another requirement for a good teacher. Students vary from class to class. Some may be attentive, while others may be trouble-makers. Others aren’t disruptive, only because they may be busy texting their friends while sitting in the back of the classroom. Different learning strategies may have to be employed, depending on the students in each class. Some students excel in role-playing, while others prefer to quietly write notes and listen. A good teacher knows how to engage students in the learning process.Finally, the teacher should be knowledgeable in the subject being taught. The teacher is regarded by students as the expert of his or her specialty area. There may be situations in which a teacher of a different subject may have to teach other subjects. It is the teacher’s responsibility to acquire the knowledge of the subject matter that has to be presented in the lesson plan. If extra preparation is required to teach the class, the good teacher will make the necessary effort.Good teachers are a valuable asset to any school; whether it is a pre-school, or a respected university. They inspire their students to learn, long after they complete their formal education.(17)