I volunteer for my daughter’s elementary class every week. I work with each student for a few minutes out in the hallway. As I sit with the students, I hear the surrounding four classrooms. I listen to the teachers teach, interact and respond to their students. Sometimes the classrooms sound boring and monotonous, and sometimes they sound energetic and fun.
This week, as I worked with the students, I couldn’t help but notice how happy the kids were. They were sad when I pulled them out of the class, and excited and eager to return. I listened to the teacher tell funny stories and examples as she taught her class math. Every few minutes, the students would burst out in joyful laughter. It was infectious. It was like listening to a comedian at a nightclub, only the comedian was teaching math, and the audience was a bunch of small children.
When my daughter came home from school, she was full of stories and smiles about her day. Because of her teacher, she loves learning and school.
What if all students felt that way about school? How different would our schools be, if our kids looked forward to learning? I don’t pretend to know all of the intricacies of teaching, but I’ll share what I have noticed as a parent of seven kids (with a collective 58 years of schooling);
Great teachers seem to share these attributes:
- It is obvious that the teacher cares about the students (they know each student personally).
- The teacher loves to teach (he/she is organized, prepared, and not boring).
- The teacher has a vision, with clear rules and expectations for the class.
- The teacher modifies the lessons according to the needs of his/her students (accelerating or decelerating).
- The teacher communicates with the parents (for both concerns and accomplishments).
- The teacher is flexible and understanding (every student and every home is different).
I am grateful for all the teachers who model this behavior. I know that each new day has its challenges. I am glad there is a workforce willing to take on such an important role in our society. Thank you to all the great teachers out there.
What great qualities have you noticed in exceptional teachers?