What Makes A Good Teacher?

This is a question education bods have been asking for years.

Obviously you are fabulous, awesome and amazing but being good is good enough.

There are probably at least 365 things that good teachers do but we can narrow these down a bit.

I tend to go back to what Tim Brighouse and David Woods say in their book Inspirations because they get the goodness down to the bare bones.

They say that the qualities and characteristics of good teachers are:

  • good understanding of self and of interpersonal relationships
  • generosity of spirit
  • sense of humour
  • sharp observational powers
  • interest in and concern for others
  • infectious enthusiasm for what is taught
  • imagination
  • intellectual curiosity
  • professional training and understanding of how children learn
  • ability to plan programmes of learning appropriate to the particular groups of children and individual students
  • understanding of their curriculum in the context of the school as a whole

If we go back to my list of 365 things good teachers do then you will see these features in there but there is one I think I’ve missed and it’s what Brighouse and Woods call being ‘energy creators’.

These are teachers that see the glass half full, every cloud has a silver lining and “they ask ‘What if?!’ – is that they use three of four parts of appreciative enquiry for every problem they need to solve.”

Energy creators stand in start contrast to their moaning counterparts – the energy consumers.

These aren’t good teachers because they see the glass as half-empty, they have clouds for every silver lining and depressingly say things like, “What more can you expect from these children?”

The children in the classrooms of energy creators and appreciative enquirers have a much more successful experience than those in the classrooms of energy consumers and enforcers of compliance.

There is just one more thing to add…good teachers commit to professional standards and care about honesty and integrity.

The problem is, we can just keep adding to the long list of qualities. I’m sure Jonathan Smith would have something to add and it would probably centre on support and encouragement. In his book The Learning Game he says that

….good colleagues compliment and complement each other. They keep themselves and they keep each other alive.

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