According to Gandhi, an ideal teacher should be free from any addiction. He needs to be polite and should set an example of simple living and high thinking. He should also remember that wasting time is a sin; therefore he should be aware of his duties towards students and society.
Vivekananda opines, the task of the teacher is only to help the child to manifest its knowledge by removing the obstacles in its way. Teachers should inspire the child by the way they live their lives.
We shall now analyse what a good teacher is. Is the one who teaches the subject well? Or is he the one who considers students as his own children?
Depending on one’s perspective, this question has many valid answers. A child might say that a good teacher makes learning fun, is fair, and assigns no homework. A parent might say that a good teacher is organized, has good control of the class, and challenges students. Administrators might say that a good teacher follows district guidelines, presents district curriculum effectively, and contributes to the school community. The school building manager might say a good teacher is tidy, has students clean up after themselves, and makes reasonable demands on his time. In short, it would be difficult to describe a good teacher without acknowledging all the people a teacher touches in the course of doing his job as well as the varied needs and expectations these people hold.
Good teachers come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, genders, and backgrounds. Some are old, some young, some serious, some funny. Despite this broad range of individuals, there are some characteristics common, some might say essential, for all “good” teachers.
A good teacher, first and foremost, sees each student as an individual with hopes, dreams, strengths, and vulnerabilities. In his classroom, each student is treated as an invaluable, essential member of the class, a person capable of success, a person with something important to contribute. A good teacher works to create a classroom atmosphere in which every student sees every other student in this light – an atmosphere in which respect for each other is the guiding principle, an atmosphere in which every student feels safe enough to share their thoughts and feelings, an atmosphere in which making a mistake is seen as an opportunity to learn rather than an opportunity to feel like a failure.
A good teacher knows his students on many levels. He learns all he can about their academic strengths and needs, but even more about their interests, fears, hopes, and worries. He helps his students learn these things about themselves. He helps his students to learn some of these things about each other, especially the strengths and hopes!
A good teacher helps his students to develop, achieve, and maintain strong self-esteem. He helps each student feel they are special, unique, and very, very wonderful. He looks beneath a defeated, sassy, comedic, defiant, weird, or compliant attitude to find the “real” person inside the behaviour. He sees diversity as an enhancing “spice” in the classroom and welcomes differences as a way to expand each class member’s world.
A good teacher allows his students to see and get to know his real self. Rather than hiding within his role, or maintaining an adult distance, he lets his hopes, dreams and fears and lets his students in. If students see their teacher as a person willing to be open and honest, they will be much more likely to be open and honest with him. He makes himself available to his students, both his attention and his time.
A good teacher remembers that each of his students is somebody’s precious child. He knows that every parent has high hopes, valid concerns, and great expectations for that child. He works to help the parents understand his goals, become comfortable with his style, and to develop their confidence. He sees parents as an integral and vital part of the child’s education – not intrusive, annoying impediments. He recognizes how much influence he has on a child’s life – and how difficult it can be for a parent to trust their child to him.
A good teacher tries to see things through his students’ eyes as well as his own. He works hard to be fair, empathetic, and encouraging. He strives to maintain high expectations for each and every child – to challenge them to reach for their best and aim for the stars. He is strong, firm, and determined. He shows his students that learning and doing one’s best are the goals.
A good teacher is not afraid to try new things, to look a little silly, to show a little sadness, to be a little angry, to get mighty excited, or to act really happy. He is not afraid to play with his students. He is not afraid to say he has made a mistake, to apologize, or to change his mind. He is not afraid to bend a rule or to make a new rule. He is not afraid to have standards, values, and manners – and to help his students see why those things are important.
A good teacher makes learning exciting. He helps each student find areas of interest to explore and master. He helps his students see that goals which are at first difficult may eventually be achievable by the systematic efforts.