A good teacher, just like a bad teacher, will be remembered for the rest of a student’s life but what is it that makes a good teacher? The first thing a good teacher needs to do is set clear guidelines. Students should know how far they can go, where the lines are drawn and the rules they are expected to follow. These should be attainable, common sense and clear. If you expect good behavior as the norm, nine times out of ten you will get it but students need to know exactly what is acceptable and what is not. If rules are broken the teacher needs to take swift and fair action because if things are allowed to slide, mayhem can ensue.Respect is another characteristic of a good teacher. Respect should be gained through fairness and also given to students in return. This means listening to them, making sure each student feels valued and a vital part of the group and allowing them to develop their talents.Observation skills are good characteristics to have. If there is discord within the class a teacher will be able to observe and see where the trouble is coming from. It could be that a student needs to be challenged more, moved out of their comfort zone or included more and a good teacher will use strengths within the group to allow this to happen. This can mean speaking to individual students, assessing action to be taken and then implementing changes fairly and clearly.
There are some teachers who have the ability to make each child feel special and these are very special teachers. I know a few who, even with a class of 30 plus students, know each one well and can make each child feel they are the most important person there. This involves people skills and is a gift which is hard to learn but good commuication and observations can help.Listening to parents is another characteristic of a good teacher. Sometimes, vital clues about a child’s abilites or behavior can be picked up by really talking to the parents and listening. Too many teachers form opinions at the outset and then refuse to change their ideas but if you listen to students’ parents, you will gain an insight into why their behavior may change, theirlikes and interests or perhaps why they cannot cope with particular situations.
Overall, the characteristics of a good teacher are the ability to observe, listen, good subject knowledge (because students will quickly pick up if you are floundering), good preparation and getting to know their students. Always have a trick up your sleeve too. If you have students of different abilities within the group, always have extra tasks so the more able ones do not feel unchallenged while those who work at a slower pace never feel everyone has finished but them. Teaching is a wonderful job and if you do it well you will gain back far more than you give and a few good people skills are vital in being able to teach effectively.(18)