A workshop held on Friday, April 30, 2021 was about the qualities of a great teacher. The facilitator of the workshop was Belina who began the session by asking the tutors questions about the topic. The tutors discussed in groups and shared their ideas. They found that there are many characteristics of a great teacher and they discussed them in order to know how to grow to become better teachers and good examples to the schools and to the society at large.
Some of the questions they posed were:
- What are qualities of a great teacher?
- How do great teachers behave in class and out of class?
- How do great teachers communicate with their school leaders and how do they present their challenges?
The facilitator began the activities by mentioning some qualities of a great teacher such as how a great teacher respects her students; creates a sense of community and belonging in the classroom; is warm, accessible, enthusiastic and caring; sets high expectations for all students; has his/her own love of learning; is a skilled leader; remains flexible; collaborates with colleagues on an ongoing basis; and maintains professionalism in all areas. Belina explained each quality by giving examples.
After that, she allowed tutors to ask questions and to give out suggestions regarding the topic. Then she winded up the session with recommendations such as how the Toa tutors need to follow these qualities of a great teacher because they will help them to improve their teaching and working style and be good role models for their students and the community at large.
Belina’s presentation included these notes:
- A great teacher respects students. In a great teacher’s classroom, each person’s ideas and opinions are valued. Students feel safe to express their feelings and learn to respect and listen to others. This teacher creates a welcoming learning environment for all students.
- A great teacher creates a sense of community and belonging in the classroom. The mutual respect in this teacher’s classroom provides a supportive, collaborative environment. In this small community, there are rules to follow and jobs to be done and each student is aware that he or she is an important, integral part of the group. A great teacher lets students know that they can depend not only on her, but also on the entire class.
- A great teacher is warm, accessible, enthusiastic, and caring. This person is approachable, not only to students, but to everyone on campus. This is the teacher to whom students know they can go with any problems or concerns or even to share a funny story. Great teachers possess good listening skills and take time out of their way-too-busy schedules for anyone who needs them. If this teacher is having a bad day, no one ever knows—the teacher leaves personal baggage outside the school doors.
- A great teacher sets high expectations for all students. This teacher realizes that the expectations she has for her students greatly affect their achievement; she knows that students generally give to teachers as much or as little as is expected of them.
- A great teacher has her own love of learning. She inspires students with her passion for education and for the course material. She constantly renews herself as a professional on her quest to provide students with the highest quality of education possible. This teacher has no fear of learning new teaching strategies or incorporating new technologies into lessons, and always seems to be the one who is willing to share what she’s learned with colleagues.
- A great teacher is a skilled leader. Different from administrative leaders, effective teachers focus on shared decision-making and teamwork, as well as on community building. This great teacher conveys this sense of leadership to students by providing opportunities for each of them to assume leadership roles.
- A great teacher can “shift-gears”. She is flexible when a lesson isn’t working. This teacher assesses her teaching throughout the lessons and finds new ways to present material to make sure that every student understands the key concepts.
- A great teacher collaborates with colleagues on an ongoing basis. Rather than thinking of herself as weak because she asks for suggestions or help, this teacher views collaboration as a way to learn from a fellow professional. A great teacher uses constructive criticism and advice as an opportunity to grow as an educator.
- A great teacher maintains professionalism in all areas. From personal appearance to organizational skills and preparedness for each day, this teacher is a commensurate professional. Her communication skills are exemplary, whether she is speaking with an administrator, one of her students, or a colleague. The respect that the great teacher receives because of her professional manner is obvious to those around her.
While teaching is a gift that seems to come quite naturally for some, others have to work overtime to achieve Great Teacher status. Imagine students thinking of you when they remember that great teacher they had in school.
Dr. Maria Orlando is a core faculty member in the doctoral Educational Leadership and Management Specialization at Capella University. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri.