What Is It That Makes A Teacher Great?
This article was written by Noa Gutow-Ellis, a high school sophomore in Houston, Texas. She’s passionate about all things related to the Arab Spring and 21st Century Education. As an 8th grader, Noa gave a TEDx talk about the power of social media.
Everyone can think back to their years as a student and recall at least one teacher that stood out as a truly outstanding teacher. We’ve all had that teacher at some point in our lives. It can be really difficult to pinpoint what makes a teacher remarkable. We know it when we see it or experience it, but putting our experience into words can be challenging.
1. Teachers that care about us both in and out of the classroom
Whether cheering for us on the field or applauding our curtain call, students appreciate teachers that show us they not only care about how we’re doing in their class, but out of it, too. I especially love being able to go talk to my teachers about life and other things not related to the subject at hand. It’s a great feeling knowing that when you don’t want to talk to your parents, there’s another adult that you can talk to and trust. It would take way more than two hands to count the number of students at my school that keep in touch with the teachers during the summer. Whether emailing or meeting for coffee, lunch or frozen yogurt the student-teacher relationships are unmatched. Having an exceptional relationship with teachers has us looking forward to school every morning and working harder in class to show the teachers we adore that we care.
2. Teachers that are beyond passionate
The best teachers are not always the ones teaching the core classes. I took a film appreciation class in 8th grade and learned more information in a single semester than I’ve learned during an entire year of math. The teacher was fantastic because he was incredibly passionate about film studies. When imagining a teacher discussing Shakespeare, many would picture a bunch of teenagers staring out into space, barely listening. But, when Mr. D talked, no heads went down and no eyes wandered. Everyone was focused intently on what he told us because his passion for the subject was contagious. I admire teachers that are so passionate about their subject that they inspire students to look further into it, ask questions, and leave the class with a sense of wonder about learning something genuinely new and interesting.
3. Teachers that plan unforgettable lessons
My 6th grade Life Science teacher was an incredible teacher. Her lessons were the type that stuck with us long after leaving her class. Each lesson had a lot of thought put into it and was obviously well planned without making us feel as though we were robots following a plan down to the last second. I would go home and tell my parents about the exciting things we did in class on a near-daily basis. Even though I took her class nearly four years ago, I vividly remember the fun we had dissecting frogs – she floated from table to table, pointing out cool things, answering an immeasurable amount of questions, and comforting the squeamish. She loved us and we loved her. Her immense amount of passion, knowledge, and love made her an outstanding teacher.
4. Teachers that aren’t afraid to be challenged
I had an unforgettable teacher during my freshman year of high school. He consistently challenged and debated with us in class and welcomed the opportunity for us to disagree with him. In a society where students are always expected to accept what the authority figure says, having a teacher who allowed us to challenge him was an eye-opening experience. No matter the topic, if we had a different opinion, he wanted to hear it. At first, it was strange to debate with a teacher and a bit upsetting that he was not shy about pointing out a flaw in our argument. But, by the end of the year, I appreciated having a teacher that I could be completely honest with about the subject, knowing he would bring up a point that would have me thinking about my argument in an entirely new way.
In the end, the best teachers aren’t always the ones doling out the best grades. Rather, the teachers that challenge, inspire, and truly care for their students are the ones that make a lasting impact.