Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Characteristics of a Great Teacher (2012)

The most popular post in the history of this blog was called "Qualities of a Great Teacher". In that post, I asked students to list qualities of a great teacher. With all the talk lately about good and bad teachers (and the demoralizing bashing that they receive at the hands of legislators, public figures, and former software giants), I decided to ask again. This time, I added the words 'effective' in my inquiry. What are the qualities of a teacher who kids learn the most from. The current Department of Ed chief and Governor seem to think that a test can be given to help determine who would make an effective teacher. Here is a Wordle I created from the results:

Looking at this, I imagine everyone expected nice, funny, fun to be large. Did you imagine strict would be?? There are a lot of reasons for that locally, but it matches what I have always known: Kids want to have fun and have someone who cares about them, but they also want structure. 

I summarized the information in this way: Students want a positive, caring and fun teacher that can reteach things that are confusing students and can control the classroom. Isn't that what YOU want too? I admit as I read through the list and tabulated the results, I wondered which of the words would describe me and which ones would not.

With the exception of "Knows what they are talking about", NONE of the things on the kids' list could be measured on a test. Remember I asked them who they learned the most from, not who they liked.

Here is the actual list. Items with numbers behind them is how many other people had that same comment:

Takes time to make sure each person understands what’s going on
Being strict at times, though they can be very easy going if we listen and do as told.
Has humor-1
Cares -1
Hands on
Finds unique ways to teach-1
Explains things thoroughly -2
Not too smart
Listens to students
Has structure/rules
Positive all the time 2
Happy person 3
Fun to be in class with
Teacher you lessons you use later in life
Fun - 4
Obey the rules but aren’t strict
Do repetitive activities
Nice 12
They do fun stuff with us -1
They show many ways of solving a problem
Does activities-1
Always willing to help
I like a teacher that gives many examples so I can learn them better
A teacher that knows how to have fun-3
Happy all the time
Know your lesson
Isn’t afraid to break things down
Let us talk-1
Good speaker
Discipline 2
Let us work in groups
Doesn’t get mad at students
Puts in extra time with you
A person that is willing to teach it to you
Tough but reasonable
Doesn’t yell-1
Is kind to all kids-2
Doesn’t judge
Treats you like a student and sometimes a friend
Someone you can joke with
Someone that keeps order in the classroom
Passionate about their work
Doesn’t hate children
Likes what they teach
Always outgoing
Willing to listen to my thoughts
Puts their best effort into their teaching
Knows what he/she is doing/talking about-2
Not strict
Can be stern at times-1
Must be willing to help a student
Good grading scale
Professional but friendly
Bonds with students
Not really old
Likes sports
Relates to students
Engages in classroom activities
Takes student feedback and tries to adjust to it within reason
Teaches the lessons with analogies that don’t relate to the subject
Relaxed yet strict environment
Helps you out when you need it and makes sure you understand it before you continue
Doesn’t ignore any student
Doesn’t pick favorites-3
Helps you one on one
Not always serious
Relate things to life experiences
Easy going and a little strict at times-1
Doesn’t bring personal problems in the class
Treats people as equal
Makes things fun
Has an orderly classroom with structure
A teacher that understands me-4
Cares for/about students-1
A good taste in shoes
Wears a nice pair of slacks
Has a good haircut
Teachers who go back and reteach criteria if students don’t understand
Teacher that wants the kids to learn. A lot of teachers just give you a book and expect you to know and won’t answer questions
Cares about student grades
A teacher who tells it like it is
Someone that knows how to discipline enough that we’re still having fun
Willing to listen
Someone who doesn’t just talk all the time
Doesn’t leave people out
Good sense of humor-2
Teaches in a fun way while still keeping it all appropriate
Isn’t afraid to laugh or sound stupid
Is a good example
Knows how to tell a joke about they they’re teaching
Keeps class interesting
Can keep control of the class
Words things so we can understand them


Mrs. Hillman said...

This is a great activity to do with kids and a wonderful use of technology to tabulate the results! Very interesting!!!

Scott McLeod said...

I can just hear the ed reform crowd now: "Almost none of these things tell us whether students LEARNED something or not. Harrumph!"

TJ Shay said...

Thanks for the comments, Mrs. Hillman and Dr. McLeod! Mr. Glass responded to me last night via Twitter with these comments:

"Thanks 4 shout out in the blog TJ. I agree with your students' list. However, qual tching can be reliably measured. #IAEdFuture"

"There are also reliable indicators of future educator quality. All are probabilistic, but better than nothing at all. #IAEdFuture."

"the question of "can quality teaching be determined & measured" has both empirical and normative aspects. Interesting discussion."

My return comments emphasized that tests do not and can not determine who makes a good teacher. From my 25 years in the classroom, I can safely say a person could have written the textbook in their subject area and still not be a great teacher.

Teaching is an art and a passion, reducing it down to something you could put on a test is infuriating and disrespectful.