It is always nice to hear from other teachers and leaders about their perspective on what makes a good teacher.
I had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Alonso Quintanilla Perez-Wicht, Vice Rector of San Pablo University in Arequipa, and I was nicely surprised to hear that he actually gave voice to students to demonstrate his point. He started his speech with a video of students from the university where they explained what a good teacher for them was, but also what a bad teacher was. Students made some valid points.
1.A good teacher is someone who…
– Cares. Some who will stay after class to reexplain a point
– Appreciates and values his/her students’ work. Grading a student means knowing the student. It also means establishing and sharing evaluation criteria with students.
– Has faith is his/her students. A good teacher trusts his/her students and give them the tools to achieve their true potential.
2.A good teacher is NOT someone who…
– Comes to class without preparation. A teacher prepares his/her lessons according to the syllabus and to the needs of his/her class.
– Doesn’t investigate. Teaching should be considered the same way as Investigating. Teaching is a science. We need to identify how many students we have, which themes need to be included, reinforced, which evaluation, which lecturing and which objectives are going to be put in place.
– Is late or absent and gives no reason
– Uses his/her cellphone in class
– Uses outdated technology or no technology at all
– Prefers lectures to active discussion
This list was an echo to Ken Bain’s book “What makes a great teacher great?”. Ken Bain who is the actual President of the Best Teachers Institute and a former professor of history at Northwestern, Vanderbilt, the University of Texas, and New York University, insists on the idea that the best teachers know their subjects like the palm of their hand. Knowing and understanding a subject is one thing as he says, but engaging, motivating and challenging students is another thing. Great teachers combine both skills.
What do good teachers expect from their students? MORE. But this doesn’t mean more work or more pressure, it means valuing each student and considering them as people. Establish high teaching standard. Accepting nothing but the best. Leading our students towards excellence while supporting the ones that need it. It is not about classifying students but it is about valuing their abilities and understanding their needs.
And to do so, teachers need to create a learning atmosphere where students can use their critical thinking skills. The classroom should be the place where students confront their ideas, learn about intriguing topics and grow as individuals, learners and future professionals.
Being a great teacher is the ability to use our critical skills. We should be reflective professionals always willing to investigate and learn to bring our students the best of our knowledge and expertise. Because if we can teach, then they can learn.