Monday, December 29, 2008

What Makes a Good Teacher

What makes a great teacher--a list to live by!
with thanks to Doug Johnson for sharing his idea

1. Interpersonal skills trump professional skills.

Students like the teacher, like the class, and like school. This happens because they know the teacher values them and what matters to them. They can tell this because they are treated with kindness and respect.

2. Give students a job and let them do it.

The teacher has faith in his students, respects their expertise, and lets them do their assignments without interference. Although he is there to help when they need it, students have the room to try new things, and can fail without being a failure. This makes the success students' success.

3. Be open and collaborative, but step in when needed.

The teacher values opinions and ideas expressed by students. Discussion and disagreement are valued and used in the process of learning. However, a level of control is expected and maintained.

4. Be visible.

The teacher talks to students, in the cafeteria, the hallway, on the way to the bus, between classes, and all of the non-class times.

5. Keep a sense of perspective.

The teacher realizes school is about the students. Academics are important, but not the most important thing. The "test" is important, but not the most important thing.

6. Finally, be a decent human being.

A single word to describe the teacher is "decent." The teacher doesn't lose his temper, put down a student, or treat anyone disrespectfully. His sense of humor is never far from the surface. He rarely accepts credit, but credits others for the school's wins. He is honestly humble and self-deprecating.

Doug Johnson on the Blue Skunk Blog discussed what made a good boss. This list has been adapted from his comments about a great boss. I thought his post was a remarkable tribute to someone that achieved at the highest level.

With this in mind, I thought about how this related to being a good classroom teacher. Now, I am not claiming to do these things--I am just thinking about goals for the new year (You don't suppose students will have to set goals, do you?) Wish me luck as I formulate my goals based on this list.



doug0077 said...

Hi Mr.McGuire,

Your list is a GREAT adaptation! I'm link to it from the Blue Skunk.

Thanks so much for sharing this.


Priest said...

An excellent post containing some authentic Wisdom; I've linked my Blog to yours as I find your Blog content to of a very high quality.

Mr. McGuire said...


Thank you for the kind words, and the link!

Anonymous said...

Pretty interesting insights. said...

I loved your article. I am a home schoolin' mama and post my thoughts and inspirations daily on this very subject of what makes a good teacher, no matter what environment you are in. Thanks for your insight.

Kim Bauer

Anonymous said...

Thats a nice way to look at things - simple and concise. Common sense and student focus are at the core of all learning. I personally work in an English school in Dublin but am an educator first and foremost. Thanks for the return to some fundamentals! I've linked you up on our own blog btw. :)

Peter Fogarty said...

It took me a decade to work out what you were able to say on less than than an A4 piece of paper - every new and old teacher should be made to read this!

ExpertWriter said...

Good work! You have enlisted some major attributes regarding teaching.The points which you have elaborated here are helpful for professional teachers too.

Unknown said...

That's an impressive list you put together, we all should have these attributes as educators.