Traits of a successful teacher

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Aliceacc, Oct 25, 2008.

  1. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 25, 2008

    Another thread got me thinking-- always a good thing!:lol:

    I know that no two of us have the same teaching style. But I wonder: just what characteristics do successful teachers have in common? Here's my off-the-top-of-my-head answer, in no particular order.

    1) Content knowledge. You can't teach it if you don't know it. And you have to know what came before it in the syllabus and where it's going. You have to be able, where possible, to answer the infamous "when are we going to use this??" questions. You have to be able to come up with alternate explanations when the first one doesn't make sense to a kid. All that means that you need to know your stuff!!!

    2) A love for kids. We've all had teachers who loved their material but didn't love kids. The combination didn't lend itself to good classroom management.

    3) A good self image. Teaching can be tough on the ego. Good teachers need to be self assured enough that a petulant adolescent doesn't make him or her question his or her career choice.

    4) An appreciation for fairness. The absolute worse claim a kid can make is "It's not fair!!!" That smart kid in front who forgets his homework must get the same punishment as the scary kid in the back with the mohawk and the tattoos. Even the good kid will acknowledge to his friends that it's not fair otherwise.

    5) Consistency. A teacher who makes a rule today and then makes exceptions tomorrow is going to spend the whole year arguing with her kids.

    6) A respect for parents. Like it or not, these parents love and adore these very same kids who challenge our patience. They want their kids to succeed. Even if we disagree heartily in their parenting choices, they deserve our respect and answers to their questions.

    7) A respect for administration. I've been lucky enough to work for wonderful administrators. But even poor administrators deserve at least minimal respect. Teachers who choose not to respect those to whom they answer are in for a rough ride.

    8) An ability to follow a policy even if they don't agree with it. I'm not talking the big disagreements-- blindly following something you know is wrong. But if a school policy says kids can't eat in class and you allow it, you're not doing your job. And the kids will know it. Even if they love it, they'll know that you can't or won't follow the rules, and they'll be less inclined to follow any rules you do set down.

    9) Professionalism. That's kind of a blanket term. But it means, to me at least, doing your job. Returning phone calls to parents. Getting forms to the office in alphabetical order on time. Dressing the part of a teacher, whatever that might mean in your particular work enviornment. Being a presence in the hallways. Stopping in to a noisy class enroute to the faculty room if the classroom teacher is running a bit late. Basically just stepping up to do what needs to be done.

    10) Serendipity. The ability to take advantage of those teachable moments when they come along and ditch your hard worked plans.


    OK-- those are my top 10. What are yours?
     
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  3. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Aliceacc, this is a great post & great thinking. I ditto them all. I'll only add this one:

    Share/collaborate with your colleagues. There's no need for everyone to reinvent the wheel.

    We do the Praxis III in my state and most of the above is included in the evaluation.
     
  4. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    Oct 25, 2008

    I agree and would add:

    Patience
    Good sense of humor

    In regards to number 10, I would add that they also need the courage to do this, not just the ability. That may be what you mean. I know I sometimes feel if I ditch all this, how will I ever catch up with what I am supposed to do. We have so many madated lessons now, it really stinks.

    To tack on to Respect of Parents, I agree wholeheartedly. Also, successful teachers must keep in mind these ARE someone's kids. Their precious gems. It is not like they are sending us the best of what they have and leaving some at home.

    Great writing Alice. We should post this on job searchers, too.
     
  5. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Oct 25, 2008

    Along with everything else, I would add...

    An ability to adapt quickly to major changes of plans. What do I do with a room full of kids when a major thunderstorm canceled activity hour, or I'm responsible for keeping them safe and engaged in the 4th hour of a lockdown? On a smaller scale, adapting lesson plans on a dime if the original plan just isn't working.
     
  6. robinsky

    robinsky Rookie

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    Great organizational and time management skills. As a first-year teacher, these are the two I'm grappling with right now!
     
  7. brigidy

    brigidy Comrade

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    To realize that we are more than teachers, we are role models and must live our lives accordingly.

    To have the ability to see the sculpture in the clay - so to speak. To see what the finished goal will be...to know why you do what you do.
     
  8. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    Oct 25, 2008

    I would add:
    The ability to see the GOOD in everyone. Kids, parents, other teachers, admin., etc. I have seen a lot of teachers NOT be able to do this. It saddens me!
     
  9. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    If this is a requirement, I'm in serious trouble. I feel like I am constantly fighting this uphill battle of organization, and I'm paranoid that I'll forget something. And I did! I forgot to send home the parent conference schedules! I'm much better with time management though.
     
  10. TeacherC

    TeacherC Connoisseur

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    I agree!! Flexibility is sooo important in our line of work- there is hardly ever a day where everything runs the way it is supposed to be!
    I also agree with everything Alice said-she's a pro! :p
     
  11. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    I agree with all the previously posted qualities. They all make you a good employee. Those qualities can be adapted to any profession, but what makes a person a good TEACHER. Are there specific things that a good TEACHER does as opposed to just a good employee????
    I think that a good teacher designs the lesson backwards. With the objective (state standard or not) in mind, you organize your lesson to help you get to that goal.
    One who has the freedom to look at the curriculum and decide what is needed to acheive that goal or the state standard and what isn't. One who has the freedom to teach at the pace the students need not at a district pacing schedule. "you must be at unit 10 by March 3."

    A good teacher is very self reflective, one who can really see what their strengths and weaknesses are. A person who can after a lesson, sit back and honestly say what went well and what tanked.

    A good teacher is one who can collaborate and really work as a team. A team where you're free to say, "hey that lesson really went well, this is what I did.." or "I'm struggling with this, what have you done in this sit...."

    A good teacher is very student centered. One who always keeps the student in mind when designing lessons. One who can design a lesson to touch the different learning styles and intelligences of their students.
    :2cents:
     
  12. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Ditto to the opening post---

    I would add a huge amount of patience. Which is something I'm lacking in at the moment with some of my students. (Always have had an issue with that heh)

    But I do see some of the top qualities in myself, so I'm not completely a lost cause :p
     
  13. teacher143

    teacher143 Rookie

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    So far I like the list! I would add:
    A great teacher needs to understand. Understand that he/she cannot give 100 percent ALL the time and that students cannot give 100 percent ALL the time. Teaching and learning must meet in the middle.
    A great teacher needs to forgive past wrongs. If a teacher looks at a child and sees mistakes that child made, then that is what the teacher can expect.
    A great teacher needs to have and share high expectations with students. Students will meet your expectations, whether high or low.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2008
  14. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    Amen to the above
     
  15. DHE

    DHE Connoisseur

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    I think it is important for an effective teacher to be well prepared. P to the 5th Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. I think our students can "feel" when we are not prepared. Preparation helps a lesson to flow.

    We also have to be willing to meet the needs of all of our students. We have to meet all learning styles, as well as, addressing achievement levels. I have been incorporating more differentiated instruction in my class and I think that it is very valuable to student and teacher success.
     
  16. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Oct 25, 2008

    I would have to add organizational skills.
     

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