Great Teachers possess many qualities that contribute to a great learning experience for children. Having the following qualities are my ideal list of qualities. You may or may not have these qualities already or you have others that are just as important.
7 Qualities of Great Teachers
These seven qualities are what I value in teachers as a mother of children who have teachers and an art teacher and a future k-3 teacher. There are many qualities that teachers possess and this list is not meant to be the ONLY qualities of a great teacher. These are the seven that I value the most and what I am striving to be as a great teacher.
Patience is Key
1. Patience, and a lot of it. Great teachers not only have to be naturally patient but continually striving for more patience because it does run out. Teaching is not for the faint of heart; little people know exactly how to push your buttons and when to do it. Just when you think you have a handle on the class they find a new way to test your patience. Great teachers can look at that young child that is driving them crazy and remember who they are deep down, despite their current behavior.
Teachers also understand that bad behavior is usually attached to a deeper cause that they may know nothing about. Loving their students is the only thing they can do. Loving students includes setting limits, boundaries and sticking with it, sometimes day after day after day.
I have a little guy who likes to run out of my classroom every time I set a limit for him. Some days he runs out several times and he is always brought right back. I should remember that this little guys deserves my patience and love no matter what or how often he runs away.
2. Empathy often gets pushed aside because teachers want and yes, deserve respect. Sometimes showing empathy is seen as, letting children “get away” with something. I hate to see teachers put all their students into one mold because they simply won’t fit. What one child needs the other child doesn’t. Some children need more attention, love and guidance than other children do. That is not to say that overly demanding children deserve more attention than another but that a great teacher needs to understand and empathize with each individual student in her class room.
There is always that quiet, shy child who will never ever demand attention at all. Great teachers will recognize those children and reach out to them as needed. Occasionally teachers have students who would like to remain invisible, not wanting any kind of attention from others. Great teachers will empathize with this child yet strive to help that child feel heard and loved.
3. Passion for teaching is probably one of the biggest and most important qualities of a great teacher. Teachers are definitely not in it for the money, I have never met a rich teacher, ever! So why in the world would a teacher put up with defiant children, angry parents, and a school system that doesn’t make any sense? Quite simply it’s the smile from that adorable 3rd grader who finally figured out how to do something new. It is the finished collaborative art project that the whole school worked on and the excitement of seeing it come together at last.
Teachers love teaching because it is rewarding to share something with children and see their faces light up. I love teaching because I love to build relationships with the children. Seeing them grow a little bit every single day makes it worth the effort. It’s a creative outlet, an exciting journey of growth and there is always something new to learn.
4. Dedication to the cause of changing and improving the life of a child or many children over the course of years makes a great teacher. There are days, probably many days that teachers drag themselves out of bed to teach again, and again and again. Imagine dealing with the most difficult child you know day after day, seven hours a day, week after week. Teaching is not easy, rewarding but not easy in the least degree. So why? Why would a teacher keep going back? As mentioned before it’s the reward of seeing something accomplished by a child who didn’t think they could do it. Mostly though it’s because these children depend and love their teacher and a great teacher knows that.
Passion plays a big role in dedication, without passion for the career of teaching our children would have to be homeschooled. Oooh shiver…..
5. Energetic, a great teacher must have a lot of energy to keep up with 25 or more students each day. It’s a good thing that I took drama classes in high school because I need and use those skills every day. Teaching is like being on stage. Finding ways to get and keep the attention of twenty-five students who may or may not have ADD, or a disability of some kind is hard. Besides, teachers also must compete with the Disney channel, Nickelodeon and other great television shows.
I should add that not every teacher needs to get up and put on a musical to be able to reach children, but it is definitely more difficult to reach children these days. Energy is also needed to keep up with the many transitions from one subject to another, lunch, recess and the occasional fire drill, assembly or interruption. All the while keeping those twenty-five students in an organized and quiet routine. Whew, I’m tired just writing about it!
6. Creativity, ahh, my favorite part of teaching. A great teacher is creative and excited to teach children in different and exciting ways. We are all creative. Creativity doesn’t just from people who can draw, paint, sew or decorate. (secret here: I am an art teacher and I can’t draw very well). Creativity is more about your ability to come up with ideas in various areas. Maybe your creativity comes in the form of science and math, which I seriously lack.
My passion comes from creating lesson plans, creating ideas on ways to teach art, music or literature. Creating engaging lessons is the best part of my job and second only to actually teaching those lessons and seeing the finished product.
7. Flexibility, a great teacher is flexible with the day, hour or even minute. Most teachers I talk to relate that they rarely if ever get the day’s lessons done. Sometimes even days behind the planned schedule. Every day brings new challenges, interruptions and sometimes it just takes more time than anticipated to teach children a new concept. Teachers are human, they get sick, they get tired and sometimes just plain sick of the same old routine and need to change things up a bit. I know I am guilty of not being as prepared as I thought I was and ended up pushing an art project back a whole week.
Just last week, I completely forgot to make black glue for a project and my class was already in my art room ready to work. Ahh man, I had to find another project and fast. Thinking on your feet and coming up with a new lesson plan may be something you will face on occasion. Don’t freak out and make a big deal, just have a backup plan and be ready to use that plan at a moment’s notice. As teachers, we do the best we can, let’s give ourselves a break and remember that we are human! Just be flexible with your plans, because it never goes how you planned or pictured it. Roll with the punches, because you will get punched a lot!