02: The Good Teacher

In each of our educational histories, we can remember at least one teacher that touched our lives. What made this person so special, so capable of connecting with us? What were the qualities that made them stand out? When I think back on these influential and effectual teachers, a five qualities spring to mind.

  1. Enthusiasm: Nothing interests me more than a person who is passionate. A teacher who can share this excitement can often engage even the most disinterested student.
  2. Respectfulness: Each adult student brings with them a long history of experience. Respecting the history and agency of each individual demonstrates to students that respect is a tenant in the classroom.
  3. Vulnerability: If the teacher expects students to share and discuss topics as they relate to them, the teacher must be prepared to lead by example. Teachers who can show they are human, while maintaining respect of students provides the class with a feeling of trust and safety in the classroom.
  4. Adaptability: Any experienced teacher knows that you have to roll with the punches. Being adaptable to any circumstance shows students that they are the priority in the classroom, and the curriculum is designed to serve them. Whether a teacher adapts curriculum to a diverse group of adults, or gracefully adjusts the lesson plan when the power point stops working helps students to feel like the teacher is in control without being controlling.
  5. Interested: The teachers I remember as real stand-outs always seemed interested in me. They listened to what I had to say, provided the space for my perspective, and were genuinely invested in my success.

Are there teachers in your life that made a difference? What were some of the qualities that made them stand out?


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