We can all think of teachers, both formal and informal, who have made a great impression on us. Some lessons stay with us for a lifetime, but most people remember teachers more for who they are than the lessons they taught. Great teachers are a highly diverse group who sprout up everywhere, and usually have a few of the following things in common.
Perhaps the number one trait of successful teachers the simple joy they get from learning about the world and sharing what they know. This energy of inquiry is catching; students sense the teacher’s own fascination and become intrigued. Teachers’ intellectual curiousity shows students that they too are always learning. Teachers who model lifetime learning give their students a great gift.
Teachers need to create exciting lesson plans and dream up memorable learning experiences for their students. Presenting information several different ways will make it accessible to all types of learners. Any effort made to do something a little different or fun will pay off. Students appreciate a teacher who is willing to try things and make mistakes.
Teachers still deal with a system that requires lots of paperwork and adherence to rules. Those who are organized, well prepared, and know how to work this system effectively can save their time and energy for interacting with students.
Prejudice and bigotry have no place in teaching. Educators must carefully examine their own prejudices and ensure that they are treating all students equitably and with the utmost respect for their personhood. A teacher must present several sides of every issue, no matter what their personal feelings, and make room for everybody to be right.
Teachers must be open-minded and ready to accept new information, especially when it comes from the students themselves. There is no better way to engage learners than to allow them to share their knowledge; great teachers are well-prepared but ready to throw their lesson plan out at any moment if the students present the opportunity.
A genuine love of people and interest in the way they think is essential for teachers. Seeing a student who is struggling as having a unique puzzle to solve lets a teacher delight in finding a way to help. The uniqueness of humans means a lifetime of teaching will never be boring. The challenges faced along the way will spur personal development in those special individuals born to be teachers.