The Qualities of a Good Teacher
All of us at some point in our lives have been students, and we’ve all had many teachers. Some we couldn’t stand, others really stood out. But what are the qualities that make someone a good teacher? This question has been explored by educational psychologists for a long time, and in this article we’re going to talk about the conclusions they’ve reached.
Before we start talking about the qualities needed to be a good teacher, we should admit that we’re talking here about one of the most difficult professions there is. Educational and instructional methods require intelligence and precision, and just knowing them and knowing how to use them is not easy. And that’s not the only problem a teacher has; he also has to know how to deal with students and all their quirks!
The qualities of a good teacher
Studies have shown that educational quality increases when the teacher meets the following criteria:
Competence in the subject area: It is essential that the teacher has a good command of the subject he is going to teach. Of course, this knowledge is more than simply the terms, facts, and concepts. Having the ideas organized and understanding how they interrelate is also necessary. It is also essential for the teacher to able to discuss every aspect of the subject and to use that knowledge in other areas too.
Instructional strategies: To teach well, appropriate strategies must be put into practice. Today the best strategies are considered to be constructive ones. With these, the student is seen as a small theoretician who builds his own world. Therefore the strategies employed must stimulate the student to explore, discover, and think critically.
Goal setting and educational planning: Effective teachers don’t wing it. They set specific objectives for their teaching and create plans to achieve them. Good planning takes a lot of time. But doing it makes learning an interesting and challenging thing.
Suitable practices for development: As students grow they change the way they learn and the way they deal with difficulties. Therefore, teachers must know the different stages of child development, to put themselves in a position to develop suitable instructional materials for each stage of development.
In the classroom
Classroom control skills: An important characteristic of an effective teacher is that they should consider the class as a whole. Working in a teams and using projects is a good option. To achieve this, the teacher needs to have a number of skills. These include setting rules, organizing groups, supervising tasks, dealing with bad behavior, etc.
Extremes have very negative consequences on teaching — whether too strict or too relaxed. They need to be able to bring their class together in a democratic way.
Motivation skills: If students don’t have the necessary motivation, then the quality of teaching will be lower. So it is a good for the teacher to use strategies to stimulate interest in the subject. Effective teachers turn educational tasks into creative and stimulating activities, and this in turn improves the quality of the education.
Communication skills: A teacher needs to be a good orator, and familiar with debates and presentations. A good teacher has no problem adapting his way of expressing himself to the needs of the student. We’re talking about communication not only with students, but also the rest of the school community.
Differences and diversity
Recognition of individual differences: No two students are alike. Each one has their own qualities and learning profile. Being a good teacher involves having the ability to recognize these individual differences. And not only that, they also must adapt their teaching to each individual student.
Effective work with diverse cultural contexts: These days it is quite normal to have very culturally diverse classrooms. Therefore, another skill teachers need is to know something about the cultures of their students, in order to improve interaction in the classroom. Their role will be to encourage students to relate positively and prevent cultural conflict.
Assessment skills: An effective teacher is aware of each student’s level of learning. To find this out he knows how to use the different evaluation tools at his disposal, thus learning the strengths and weaknesses of his students. These days teachers often use evaluations for testing, but it shouldn’t be like that. The real reason for the evaluation is to find out where the student is at, and then develop adequate teaching for him.
Technological skills: Technology, if used correctly, can be an effective tool to increase the quality of education. That’s why good teachers need up-to-date knowledge of new technologies. They also need to know how best to use them in an educational environment. It’s also important for the teacher to familiarize students with these technologies.
Now that we’ve seen all these qualities, we can see just how much is demanded of teachers these days. It seems almost impossible for a single person to be able to meet all these requirements. And yet we can also see how much responsibility a teacher has, and we can’t afford for them to be any less than what we’ve laid out.
The teacher is a central figure in a student’s education. The consequences of having a bad teacher, even one that is mediocre, are that some of their students are not going to develop to their full potential. On the other hand, we can’t ignore the fact that if we want quality professionals then we need to have quality teacher training.
It’s true that attitude is of great importance, no less so are knowledge and skills. Investment in education is one of the best investments that a society can make for its future.