What makes a good teacher in the education world? Those educators who are achieving excellent student results all have a certain mix of traits. These traits, applied in differing proportions depending upon the make-up of the classroom from year to year, describe an elementary teacher who is doing good things for children's education.
I certainly expect some disagreement on what makes a good teacher, but I do like to point out that we are members of a public-service profession with a very high calling - nothing less than the future of civilized society, if you want to get right down to it!
(I'm really humble about our influence, aren't I?)
"What makes a good teacher" really has to be viewed from the perspective of this society we are influencing, not from the internal viewpoint of the members of our profession.
And society has high expectations for elementary school teacher professionalism.
So do we when our own children start going to school!
In reality, society is represented by the students who look to you every day for guidance and knowledge, so what makes a good teacher is defined by what's good for kids, but sometimes I like to consider the really big picture, too!
When considering "what makes a good teacher" we must ask: Are good teachers born with certain "super teacher" characteristics? Does teacher professionalism have to come naturally? Is teacher accountability imprinted at birth?
Absolutely not. Characteristics can all be learned through experience or serious self-examination. But whether they come naturally or through life experience, the good teachers - the ones you want to emulate - have the following qualities.
Why are you here?
(You do remember the names of all your elementary school teachers, don't you?)
That sounds pretty hard-core, doesn't it? Well...that's me. When it comes to education, I'm a true believer.
For whom are you here? You...or the kids?
Again, you are here for the kids. Period.
Given the right curriculum to follow, you are certified to teach it all. So whether or not a good teacher should teach everything expected to their 3rd grade class should not really even be a question. Believe me, 4th grade is counting on you!
It is unfortunate that some teachers (in districts that grant some autonomy in instructional design) do not teach everything required by the state for their grade level. These teachers favor subjects they like to teach and ignore other subjects. For example, some elementary teachers love to teach reading and social studies and are uncomfortable with teaching math and science.
This usually means that by the end of the school year, the students have not completed all math and science units. This is a distinct disservice to the students in these classrooms, who will be at a disadvantage the following year...you can't learn long division if you never mastered subtraction. Teacher accountability drives in many states have sprouted from this seed of skipping over content.
Bottom line: Teach it all.
By the way...speaking of teaching it all...except for the last, partial week of school, there should be no non-instructional weeks. This means that what makes a good teacher includes teaching math unit one on school day one. This also means you don't spend a week cutting out snowflakes before winter break, etc.
Well...maybe a few snowflakes - see "creativity" in Part 2. Just not for a whole week!
Click above to like this page. Click top-left button to like entire site. Comment below!