One of the most interesting definitions of a good teacher I’ve recently heard was made by Josette LeBlanc on Maria Theologidou’s blog. In an interview, Maria asks Josette what was the moment she realized teaching was her call. Josette concludes her answer saying this:
… since my graduation [from the SIT Graduate Institute], I’ve been working on becoming the type of teacher I’d appreciate learning from.
This sentence immediately stood out for me. Although I can only guess what Josette means by her words, to me, “the type of teacher I’d appreciate learning from” sounds like a perfect definition of what makes a good teacher because, after all, one always wants the best for themselves.
So, one of the easiest ways of finding out how to do our job well, or at least in good conscience, we teachers can start by asking ourselves what type of teacher we would appreciate learning from. The reader may object that we probably do it subconsciously to some extent all the time. Also, each and every one of us has different expectations and these expectations keep changing over time so what we think at a given moment is never a universal truth. But I believe it’s a good start, a useful springboard for our future professional development and most importantly, it’s good for our students’ well-being.
So now I’m going to stop babbling and I’ll get to the point – to actually answering the question. To be able to do this, I’ll have to imagine myself sitting in the classroom as a student. I’ll have to go through a list of subjects I had at school, not just English as a foreign language, which, unlike maths, for example, I learned fairly easily and quickly. I’ll probably have to picture all the teachers I remember and pick the qualities which I appreciated at that time (or which I eventually realized were positives).
So, here goes.
The type of teacher I’d appreciate learning from:
- Someone who’s fully present in the classroom all the time, carefully registering what’s happening around. I believe attentive presence results in fairness and prevents conflicts.
- Someone who’s consistent even when it’s painful.
- Someone who loves the subject s/he teaches and shows others how they can learn to love it. In other words, someone who can pass his/her passion/love on to students.
- Someone who’s compassionate but not too ‘soft’.
- Someone who’s realistic regarding expectations and learning outcomes, i.e. someone who demands high but at the same time enables everybody to succeed.
- Someone who works hard but is not a workaholic. Teachers who have no life may take things too seriously and they may end up frustrated and burned out.
Now, I invite you to do the same if you have a spare minute or two. What type of teacher would you like to become, i.e. what type of teacher would you appreciate learning from? 🙂