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What Makes a Good Teacher

by Mohamed Karni

What makes a good teacher

It should not be one or the other. Camaraderie and authority go hand in hand for a good teacher. And as Kevin mentioned, inspiration too. It seems daunting to have all of them in a single person. But I think one follows the other. I believe a good teacher should follow these principles:

  • Cultivate what works for your students: Every classroom is unique because of the kind of children it has. Not only do they have different capabilities, but they also different learning styles. A good teacher understands the learning style of his/her learner and incorporates different strategies to teach.
  • Care genuinely: Take interest in their life outside the classroom. It’s important to have an emotional connection with the students. Know their interests and encourage them. It’s not always possible for a teacher to teach various activities in the school because of various constraints. Make sure you encourage your students if they are excelling in something outside of the school.
  • Trust the kids: Tell them that you trust them. Give them responsibilities in the class and encourage them to take initiatives. Depending on the level of the students, responsibilities could differ. Praise them in front of the class and point out how they helped you. Appreciate the effort and not the result.
  • Inspire lifelong learning: You cannot do this till you become a lifelong learner. Give them opportunities to be self-directed learners. When you ask a question, don’t ask them to raise their hands. Give them a few mins to think, discuss with a partner next to them, and then randomly select someone to answer. This encourages everyone to think and apply their knowledge. Never demean someone who has a wrong answer. Ask them what made them think of this answer. Or tell them its an interesting perspective and discuss that in the class. I think storytelling is a great way to inspire learning. Tell them stories about your school days, about leaders of the past and present. Stories can be very engaging and make even boring lessons interesting.
  • Connect, Extend, Challenge: I read about this somewhere. For every idea that you teach, ask the learner to connect it to their previous experiences or things they have learned; ask how it extends to their previous beliefs and did this new idea bring out any challenging questions to their mind?
  • Create a safe and positive learning environment: Let the students be comfortable asking questions. Let them know that even you learn from their questions. If you do not know something, tell them lets try to find an answer and discuss this question in the next session. Encourage them to explore outside the books and find an answer.
  • Inclusive education: Though most of the schools in India are not inclusive, it is very important to help children understand similarities and differences between people in the real world and make connections with the society as a whole. It not only brings out the best in differently-abled children, but other kids also gain a lot from the interaction.
  • Involve parents and families: Learning and education are not limited to classrooms. Teachers should involve parents and let them know that their contribution is valued. In the pre-primary and primary sections, one should call one parent/grandparent every week and let them interact with students. They could do storytelling, teach them new skills, coach them to play something, sing or play an instrument, tell them about their jobs….options are infinite. In today’s world where nuclear families are so common, interaction with grandparents/ elder generation helps kids a lot. They have so much knowledge to share.
  • Use technology to good use: Though I am not a big advocate of online learning for very young kids, I think the concept of blended learning is surely good. Also, technology could be used to explain concepts and implementations. On the management side, it could be helpful in time management. The time saved using technology could be used in a better way.
  • Be fair: have rules in the class. Decide the consequences of breaking a rule with the class. If your favorite student breaks a rule, he/she should be punished too. Be caring, but at the same time be authoritative.

So to answer the question, camaraderie should go hand in hand with authority.

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