What makes a great teacher?Think about the teachers you have had over the years. Everyone of us have had teachers who we would categorize at many levels from "Jedi Master" to "Train Wreck". Although, it might be humorous and maybe even therapeutic to share stories and characteristics of those "Train Wreck" teachers, lets focus on what makes a great teacher.
When I first started my masters program I read a book by Jeff Kottler, Stanley Zehm, and Ellen Kottler called, "On Being a Teacher: The Human Dimension." In the opening chapter, they layout what they believe makes a great teacher. In no certain order, here is their list, with some of my toughts:
1. Charisma - This is the ability to inspire others. I don't care how well a teacher knows his or her content area. If that teacher can not inspire the students in the class, then how much good can they accomplish.
2. Compassion - Teachers have to care more about their students than they do their subject area. That sometimes mean putting the books aside to deal with issues the students are facing.
3. Egalitarianism - We as teachers have to rise above discrimination and prejudice and treat all students equally. Students will not reach their highest level of success in a class where the teacher is perceived as biased or inequitable in the way he or she enforces rules.
4. Working with Diverse Students - No two students are alike and the teacher who can adapt to meet the needs of all students is truly a great teacher.
5. Sense of Humor - There are very few times when laughter is not a good thing. We enjoy laughing when we feel on the mountain top and we need laughter when we are in the valley.
6. Additional Traits - Smarts, creativity, honesty, emotional stability, patience, the ability to challenge or motivate, novelty, and interest in students. In these additional traits, a teacher must allow themselves to be human and to take risk, even if it means failing in front of our students. We must show our students that we can be trusted. That we can provide stability, even in the most difficult and unstable times. That we will be patient, because our students are worth waiting on. That we will challenge them and push them to their highest level of success. That we will be ourselves, and they should do the same. That we care about them as people and we are invested in them, and not just our subject.
I would love to hear what you would add to this list. Maybe share a tribute to a great teacher you had and what made him or her great.