Acquiring teaching skills is one thing and becoming a good teacher is a different matter altogether. Once teaching skills have been learned, it becomes imperative for trained teachers to make deliberate efforts to enhance their skills and abilities to influence students for positive and wholistic educational outcomes. However, not every teacher achieves what students, parents, teachers and other stakeholders consider as a good teacher. Yet there is no agreement among scholars and academics on what actually constitutes a good teacher (Zagyvane Szucs 141).The presence of myriad perspectives on what constitutes a good teacher offers an opportunity to make an academic inquiry in order to contribute to this debate. The lack of agreement on the qualities of the ideal good teacher shows that a good teacher is expected to have qualities that stand out from the majority of the teaching flock.
So, what makes one a good teacher? Are there unique characteristics one must exhibit for them to be described as good teachers? Is teacher training adequate to make one a good teacher? Who is supposed to make judgments on the goodness /suitability/ quality of a teacher? Students can be important resources from which conclusions can be drawn on what kind of persons are good teachers. Other stakeholders such as parents, other teachers, school leaders can also offer insightful knowledge on what qualities that a good teacher should possess (Hasset 2-3).The discussion will revolve around the experiences and perceptions of the highlighted groups regarding the qualities of good teachers.
The quest for the answer to the question of what makes a teacher good has been a subject of discussion for many decades. The earliest discussion on the ideal qualities of a good teacher began in the 1930s in Europe. After interviewing 10000 students in the Federal Republic of Germany, a team of researchers from Germany found that how students perceived their teachers offers an insight into the qualities of a good teacher. From the interviews, the researchers concluded that a good teacher is joyful, friendly, understanding, patient, objective and fair in assessing students performances (Zagyvane Szucs 141).Subsequent studies have extensively explored and expanded the findings of the 1930s and, although clear-cut qualities have not been established even today, there is a lot of consensus in the academic community on the qualities that a good teacher should possess.
University training of teachers is one of the crucial steps that shape the qualities that make up a good teacher. According to Zagyvane Szucs and Benekos, university training for student teachers does not offer all that a teacher needs to develop their skills to a level where stakeholders can consider them as good teachers. This is the case because teaching requires some competencies relevant to ones line of instruction. For instance, for a teacher to succeed in imparting the right information to students about mathematics, they must acquire the right qualification on the subject(141-43;225).Besides, such acquisition is critical as it enables teachers to stimulate the positive emotional response of students towards instruction and learning and also fosters confidence among students when they answer questions asked during lessons(Benekos 225; Miller 36-7). Given this, the possession of the requisite knowledge in a given area of teaching is an important quality for one to meet the criteria of a good teacher. A further inquiry into this conclusion will be made in the subsequent sections of this paper.
Patience has been identified as one of the leading qualities that one must have for them to be considered as a good teacher (Miller 36).A patient person implies that such individual has the characteristic of taking time to realize a given objective in whatever activity in which they are engaged. Studies that focus on the perceptions and feedback of students on the person that is fit to be called a good teacher have indicated that students regard patience as an important characteristic of good teachers (Inan n.p; Zagyvane Szucs 141). Students prefer teachers who are understanding and patient with them during class instruction and learning assessments. A patient teacher encourages students amidst commission of errors even after the teacher has done several corrections. Also, a patient teacher encourages students to make repeated attempts in tackling an academic problem without giving up on them(Miller 36-37; Walker 65-6).This quality makes students feel that someone cares more about their academic issues thereby feeling motivated. Motivation increases their chances of performing better in school. As studies of Zagyvane Szucs and Miller find, teachers with patience improve the potential of slow-learners and the overall quality outcomes of education (141; 225).
A show of great interests in the issues that have a negative impact on the learning experiences of students is associated with patient teachers. Students value teachers who show interest in what interests them- their hobbies, family, academic interests, and travel, among other interests (Miller 36-38). When teachers show interest in students, students acquire the confidence for self-expression. In other words, they get a chance to discuss various issues affecting their lives in general (Zagyvane Szucs, 141; Walker 65). To this end, the teacher can identify the issues that undermine the students potential of becoming great achievers in whatever learning activity they many have chosen to pursue in school. An engaging personality makes students more confident to relate with teachers as well as fosters effective exchange of information between the teachers and students (Benekos 225-26). As a result, student-teacher interactions are likely to be enhanced and also quality outcomes are likely to be realized due to greater awareness of students issues among teachers.
As already pointed out in the previous paragraphs of this paper, provision of university education of student teachers is an important avenue of molding a good teacher. However, a good teacher is he who exploits innate abilities to nurture students and equip them with the requisite skills which would translate into better performance (Hasset, 2013).To accomplish this, teachers need to be creative in their relations with students. Teaching must be more than opening teaching materials (such as a book), guiding students in doing exercises while following an outline that has been designed by someone with little understanding of the unique needs of each student or group of students(Miller 35-7). That is to say; good teachers must explore other methods of instruction as guided by their intuition rather than following guidelines that some students may find difficult to the learning processes. Creativity in student interactions would not only bring the forth the full potential of students but also act as a motivation tool for learning stragglers.
The education sector has become as dynamic as other sectors of the economy. The new environment requires that individuals operating in such environments revise approaches to their occupational activities in order remain effective. Accordingly, good teachers adapt and change for them to meet the needs of students (Zagyvane Szucs 142; Hassett 3).Teachers must be adaptive as teaching entails encountering students with different needs every single day. A new encounter with students with special needs and students of low-income backgrounds are some of the experiences that can erode the quality of good teachers if they remain impervious to change. Equally, an encounter with new technologies is an imperative for teachers to adapt and embrace change (Kirkwood and Price n.p). Even in circumstances where school facilities do not offer the requisite support to meet challenges associated with change, good teachers use their creativity to ensure that student needs are met.
Meeting the unique needs of students is an essential element of equality in education. Good teachers strive to ensure that every child accesses education regardless of their color, age, sex, sexual orientation, social class or any other form of human categorization (Zagyvane Szucs 143).Miller posts that a good teacher treats each student equally and makes them feel as human beings vis-a-vis other students (36-38). According to Benekos and Miller, the perception of unequal treatment of students affects the quality of the relationship between the teachers and the students. Also, a good teacher does not address students learning issues based on categorizations that are prejudicsial as such method may discourage students engagement with teachers leading to low-quality learning outcomes(225;38-9). As a result of this, the ability of the teacher to stimulate positive learning is hampered. As it is the case, teachers who deliver low-quality learning outcomes are unlikely to be considered as good teachers.
Active involvement of teachers in learning activities of students plays an influencing role in enhancing the quality of learning outcomes (Miller 37-8). As highlighted earlier, developing interests is critical as it helps teachers to know issues ailing the students. This is at the heart of involvement. Quoting earlier studies, Zagyvane Szucs(142), notes that students involved actively in learning activities such as essay writing, discussions, debates, and research are likely to rate the process of learning as high-quality. According to Zagyvane Szucs, these activities enable students to practice what they have learned. When teachers participate in the mentioned activities, they set a good create a mentality in students that high achievements are possible (141-2). Any activity that results in quality learning outcomes can be considered to have been delivered by a good teacher.
Research elsewhere has shown that passion and enthusiasm are important aspects of a good teacher. Passion breeds effectiveness. For a teacher to be diligent with their pedagogical activities, passion and enthusiasm are essential to muster the required energy and motivation for effective teaching (Hassett 4 and Benekos 225). A passionate teacher passes the energy of his situation to students. For instance, his determination to deliver on his mandate can engender positive attitudes among students in matters of academics and success. In contrast, a teacher who lacks passion is less likely to inspire confidence in students (Hassett 4). The result of this is that the performance level is lowered, culminating low-quality learning outcomes.
Being a good teacher goes beyond teaching and ensuring that students pass with good grades. A good teacher is the one who acts as a mentor to students. Most effective teachers are those that impart knowledge while providing career guidance to students (Walker 65).Mentoring is vital in teaching as it provides students with they need as per their abilities, aspirations, and ambitions. Moreover, offering mentorship to students helps them cope with difficult situations in life which may impact negatively on their career (Walker 64-67; Hassett 3-4).As Miller puts it, a mentor is a friend to the student, and this friendly relationship has a positive impact on the ability of the students to navigate different challenges that affect students and young people as a whole (36-38). For example, students with good mentorship from teachers have higher chances of dealing with socioeconomic issues impacting negatively on their education (Walker 65-6). For this reason, they are likely to achieve superior results in academics.
Undergoing training at the university is critical in providing the requisite skills to teachers. Teachers with these skills deliver high-quality outcomes and, therefore, are considered as good teachers. Teachers who show fairness to students are bound...
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