1. Enthusiasm for learning
You may be a teacher in class, but some part of you is always a student. Everything around you can be learnt from. You read a good book and start thinking about how you can share it in the classroom. You bring in experiences and real-world scenarios and re-contextualize them for your students. You’re an effective teacher because you are enthusiastic and passionate not just about teaching but also about learning, and your students feel it too.
2. Connecting with the students
You not only know and understand your subject, you are able to communicate it to each and every student you teach. You are aware of what TV shows, music, games, etc., your students are “into” and make references to them to drive home a point. You don’t just tell the students what they need to know, but help them engage, practice, and discover it themselves and your assignments have components which encourage the student to analyze, critique, and reflect on what they are learning and how they are learning it.
3. Knowing when to be the teacher
Your students enjoy your class because simply put, it’s fun. But they respect you because you also know when to draw the line. As a teacher, one of the goals is to make students aware of themselves as learners and challenge their assumptions about learning. Your students know they need to accept responsibility for the decisions they make – whether they submit their assignments on time, or show up for class having done the assigned reading, or how they prepare for the exams and make use of the free time you give them. You also realize the importance of self-reflection – being aware of yourself as a teacher and the teaching methods you use.
4. Sharing the classroom
Students may not be in a position to decide what the syllabus should include or which texts they should use but you know that when teachers make all the decisions, the students become dependent and their motivation to learn decreases. You encourage your students to speak out when it comes to classroom policies and give them some control over the learning processes. Your students have a say in setting assignment deadlines (within a given time window), and a choice in the projects they work on and the classmates they work with.
5. Learning from the students
With the Internet and exposure children get nowadays there are many times a student could bring something new to the classroom, something possibly that you, the teacher, are not aware of. You, in fact, encourage the students to teach the others and yourself. You may not know this, but your students admire you for your honesty to admit there are questions you cannot immediately answer and for the willingness you show to learn the topics that are new or that they are interested in.
6. Putting in the effort
Students learn at different rates and in different ways. By taking the time to break out of the box, to teach the same matter in a different way so that one student in the classroom “gets it” or setting questions that are more challenging for a student who has grasped the topic ahead of everyone else to not get bored conveys the message that you care. When students see you putting in this effort, of paying attention to them as individuals, and what they have to say, they feel they owe it to you and to themselves to do their best.
7. ‘Teacher’ for life
Students of a “good teacher” want to keep coming back to class – where they have learnt much more than what comes in a textbook and in an enjoyable manner – passion, reflection, enthusiasm, integrity… the list goes on. A “good teacher” enjoys the experience of teaching – the teaching process and the students; of seeing the question marks on students’ faces fade away and their eyes light up, with understanding. For most students, the connection with their favourite teacher doesn’t end just because school is over. It lasts a lifetime. And you, you can’t imagine doing anything else.