The first quality that is absolutely essential in a good teacher is knowledge. This seems like an obvious necessity, and yet the public school system does not even require that a high school teacher have a bachelor’s degree in the subject they are teaching. I took Trigonometry as a junior in high school from a teacher that did not know Trigonometry. I took Spanish from a teacher that did not speak one word of Spanish. On the first day of class, she wrote out the numbers from one through ten on the board, and two of them were wrong. If the teacher does not know the subject, then they have no business teaching it to others. Some think they can fake it by just studying the text book ahead of time. But with that teaching methodology, the teacher simply becomes an extra filter to the information in the book. Filters do not add information, they can only restrict its flow. In which case the teacher becomes unnecessary.
Second, the teacher needs to be skilled in the arts of communication. All the knowledge in the world is useless unless the teacher is able to effectively communicate that information to his or her students. This is generally where there is a failure in the education system at the college level. In public high schools, teachers are not required to have any special knowledge about the area that they teach in, they are instead required to have a degree in education. A college professor on the other hand is required to have a PhD in the area they teach in, but may not necessarily have any clue on how to teach. The skill of communication is also more than just being able to speak well and hold the attention of your students. Teachers need to be able to communicate lessons in a way that students can comprehend and apply them. Different people learn in different ways. Some students learn best by seeing, some by hearing, and others by doing. So a skilled teacher will utilize all these methods of instruction in order to reach the greatest number of students. Finally, and this is true in all fields not just teaching, the teacher must be passionate. Have you ever been forced to sit through a lecture given by someone that is bored? Even if you are intent on learning the content, the more you listen the more bored you will become. But on that same subject, enthusiasm is just as contagious as yawns. That is why we are attracted to people that are passionate about what they do. This is especially important in secondary education, since your students are most likely not self-motivated (they are required by law to attend your lectures). If you are passionate about teaching, you will be motivated to improve your students, and through that process improve yourself and your teaching skills. If you don’t care, that attitude comes through in your lesson plans, no matter how good a lecturer you are. People, even students, don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. (7)