Have you ever wondered “Am I a good teacher” or “How can I be a good teacher”?
What does “good” mean when talking about teaching? How do children understand the concept of “good?” Below, I cite the findings of a research, done by the General Teaching Council of Scotland in cooperation with Children in Scotland, who asked children and young people the question “What is a good teacher for you?”
Ready? Let’s find out what they said.
“They could smile, make sure people are feeling ok.”
That child, through his answers, wanted, not pointlessly, to put kindness at the foreground. Children believe that a good teacher is someone who is kind, funny, smiles and cares about his pupils; someone who creates an environment where pupils feel safe and nurtured and free to be themselves; an environment where they, respecting the set rules, can have fun. For them it’s crucial for a teacher to use kind words and care about their lives, by asking them questions about their hobbies, how they’re feeling, what they like. Last but not least, children don’t like someone who shouts to them. They believe that using a calm voice to say what you want to say, is far more effective than shouting. As a pupil said,
“Shouting makes me more angry. Getting angry at you doesn’t help.”
“It is important to praise pupils. It will make them feel good. They will do better work”, is the answer of a child when he was asked about his views on encouragement. According to him, encouragement is an important “tool” that a teacher should use to support his pupils in their learning. A good teacher should recognise his pupils’ efforts and praise them, lifting their self-esteem and encouraging them to try harder.
Many pupils included in their answers the importance of relationships. A good teacher is someone who tries hard to build relationships with his pupils, by being approachable (so that pupils feel comfortable to go up and speak to him), listening to them, respecting them and praising them. A high percentage of pupils mentioned that having fun with the class, caring about their lives outside of school and knowing them as individuals, has a positive effect on relationships and, therefore, is an important thing for a good teacher to do.
“Understand more about things that stop us learning – like our home life.”
Consistency and fairness play a huge role in an effective classroom life, and a teacher who sets clear expectations and co-developed rules, by taking into account each pupil’s needs, is respected and ensures a productive learning environment.
“Everyone should get the same opportunities”, is what a child said. According to him, a good teacher is someone who doesn’t have favourites and treats everyone in the classroom equally.
Others talked about the importance of feeling engaged to the classroom life and to their learning, and of knowing that their teacher is going to support them if they get stuck.
“If I feel ignored, I don’t want to go to that class at all.”
“My teacher has helped me when I’ve been anxious, by getting me to take a deep big breath and by giving me jobs to help her out.”
Professional Skills & Knowledge
A good teacher should have knowledge about what he’s teaching and why, and use child-centred and individualised teaching techniques, so that he can deliver his lessons in an engaging and effective way. Apart from the professional knowledge, pupils talked about the importance of being listened to.
“Teachers should learn to listen so that they can help me think about my work.”
“If I make a mistake they explain what I did wrong and help me to understand for next time.”
Last but not least, self-awareness and the willingness to learn from them are immensely positive virtues for a good teacher. Children know that teachers don’t know everything. Self-awareness and the ability to say that you don’t know something are important.
“They want to learn from us. They’re not too proud to say they got it wrong.”
Teachers need to have a positive attitude and share their energy and passion for teaching. In this way, they’ll be able to offer their pupils a creative, fun and positive learning environment.
“Engaging teachers are the best, so teachers who share stories and can joke about things often make the classroom environment less stressful and more productive.”
So, is this important? Is it worth to be the teacher that children want and not just go to school, teach stuff, go back home? In my opinion, this could make all the difference in the world. A kind, fair, caring and funny teacher, with professional knowledge and attitude, could act as a good role model for his pupils and inspire them to be the best version of themselves.
Because it’s not just about the knowledge. Children, nowadays, have access to electronic devices and can have any information in an instant. Therefore, what do they need teachers for?
You can read the official research here
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Sara Tsompanidi is a primary teacher and freelance writer, living and working in Edinburgh. She has been providing guest posts for a year. Her educational background in primary teaching and her multicultural experiences have given her a broad base to approach many topics. She especially enjoys sharing her experiences and providing practical advice to individuals who are making their first steps in Scotland.
(You can contact her here: firstname.lastname@example.org)