I am sure we all have a favorite teacher. They made us think, they challenged us with their questions or their projects, and they let us know they cared not only about us but about everyone in the class. It is not easy being this type of teacher but it is the type of teacher that every child and adult deserves.
Having spent the last thirty years of my life in a school, I feel qualified to say what makes a great teacher. It does not matter if you are five or sixty-five you deserve to be taught by someone who is passionate about their subject matter and can make that subject come alive before your eyes. A great teacher is someone who knows and truly understands that not everyone is the same or learns the same. They prepare their lessons for every type of learner. They come to class every day prepared and ready to teach.
The question is often asked, “Are teachers born or can you be taught to be a teacher?” I think it is a little bit of both. I really believe a great teacher is born with the desire to help people and is able to share what they know in a way that is nonthreatening. Teachers can be taught strategies but they cannot be taught to care. A teacher who cares about her students will find a way to reach them all. They will know when to ask for help with a student who is struggling and they will be glad to let the advanced students move ahead.
Now that I have retired I have been taking lots of classes. Some of the classes have a teacher standing in front of me and some are online. It doesn’t matter which type of class I am in. A good teacher is a good teacher. They know what the objectives of the class are and they know how to evaluate whether their lessons are meeting the needs of their students. They are always finding a way to communicate with their students. As an adult student, be sure that your goals for what you want to learn meet that of the teacher’s syllabus.
I know that you don’t have to be in a classroom to teach. We are all teaching people all of the time. But I can tell you there is nothing like that moment when a child’s eyes light up when they understand something for the first time. There is nothing better than teaching the son or daughter of one of your former students and know that they requested that their child be in your class. There is nothing better than getting a hug at the end of the day or an apple at lunch from a five year old. Just yesterday I saw one of my previous kindergarten students. She is now a mom with a child in third grade. We both remembered her kindergarten year fondly. It was so much fun to reminisce about all those special days so many years ago.
If you have a special teacher and you know how to reach her, let her know you still care. I bet one of the reasons you still do is because when you were in his or her class they let you know in some way each day how very much they cared about you!
Ginny believes that each and every day is filled with special moments to be enjoyed and treasured. On her blog, Special Moments in Time, she encourages everyone to recognize and celebrate their own special moments each day.