Qualities in a Good Teacher
It is instructive to note before diving deeper that the qualities in a good teacher is not usually mere subject matter expertise. The truth is that a teacher must know his/her subject, no debate about that. But beyond the subject knowledge, he or she is required to have some other qualities that endear students to want to learn his or her subject. This article will explain some of these qualities.
Many great teachers are often concerned not only about a child being able to reciprocate what has been taught, but as well how to assist the child to develop the appropriate personality (NTI PDE702, p. 75).
Hence, it is not uncommon for some of us to engage in constant reflections on our past experiences during childhood and adolescence in order to empathize with our students and be able to give realistic help and support to them. And this is only one out of several veiled virtues teachers must nurture to give the noble profession the name it deserves. The National Teachers’ Institute stated some of the qualities of a good teacher in its module NTI PDE703, p. 9.
Unfortunately, some students sometimes abuse and mis-interpret this sage advice. For example, as teachers we sometimes refer to or quote scholars in order to stimulate and encourage our students to be more creative. However, it will shock us to know that some students would rather mutely argue that the teacher should have been one of the scholars.
In one instance of a particular teacher teaching JSS Three a topic titled Pythagoras’ Theorem in Mathematics, the teacher introduced the topic to the students and with a sincere zeal to wet their learning appetite and inspire them, explained further that the word Pythagoras was a name of a Greek Mathematician that propounded the theorem and was like any one of them in the classroom. Therefore, they can do the same if not better. As she continued, a student interjected and asked insolently “Mistress, did you also discover any theorem?”. Guess what would be the immediate response of the teacher? It is like a child asking his or her parents ‘were you also hardworking in your childhood?’ in retaliation to the parent’s advice, ‘strive for the best grades in your studies as a youth’.
It takes a great teacher with decent psychological stamina for classroom management to either pretend not to have heard the question or redirect the child to linear thinking by overwhelming the question with explanations that are of direct benefit to the students’ behavioural objectives. After all, “the earth has music for those that listen”, William Shakespeare, and not those that are quick to reply. Students should realise that imbibing the simple act of listening to understand (rather than listening until they have an opening to make their point) can be more enlightening. This is one out of several classroom distractions teachers often face from students. Yet they strive to take charge and sincerely deliver what has been outlined in the interest of all the students (whether willing or unwilling to learn). This is one amongst several ingenuities in the teaching profession that are often difficult to find in black and white.
Of course, some teachers would not have discovered a theorem, but they contributed positively to what make many students become scholars. According to Sir Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” We are not sure if Newton was not apparently referring to some of his teachers.
Lessons for the students: Listen more and digest a teacher’s message. Then cogent questions will naturally flow out from an understanding of the topic.
Lessons for the teachers: In such difficult experience, try not to put yourself in a defensive position or make negative remarks against such students. Rather, make wise use of good virtues nature has endowed us with to calm the storm down.
Lessons for Parents: Help moderate children’s tendency to be over outspoken.
NTI PDE702, Developmental Psychology
NTI PDE703, General Methods in Education.
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