What makes a great teacher?

I was recently asked to describe the qualities of the ‘ideal’ teacher. After putting together a list, it struck me that this is a useful exercise for anyone involved in teaching as it forces us to confront our underlying beliefs and assumptions about teaching.

Here’s what I came up with, but it would be great to hear whether you agree and what other qualities you might add:

A great teacher…

  • Is a great listener and observer
  •  Makes learning enjoyable, interactive and fun
  • Engages each and every student in a group
  • Creates a safe environment in which students feel able to share their thoughts and engage in discussion
  • Knows what each student needs to learn next to fully grasp a concept or technique
  • Facilitates deep learning through questioning – doesn’t ‘tell’ students things but helps them construct their own understanding
  • Regularly varies the learning activities – keeps students focused on task and accommodates their diversity
  • Makes regular diagnostic checks to ensure that all students are learning and provides constructive, not judgmental, feedback
  • Is aware of their own underlying beliefs and assumptions and is mindful of the impact these may have on students
  • Learns from students and is open to perspectives and points of view which may challenge their own
  • Acknowledges, values and accommodates  each student’s individual strengths and responds accordingly
  • Is able to facilitate engaging discussion by harnessing the knowledge and wisdom of each student

Thanks to the AllBusiness and PeerNetBC blogs for shaping my thinking on this.


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