What it takes to be a good teacher

Prienderen Moodley By Prienderen Moodley, 20th Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

Looks at what it takes to a sucessful and effective teacher. Also addresses common misconceptions about the field of teaching.

The world of a teacher

The field of teaching or educating is a specialised field. Not just anyone can take on this challenge and do it not only successfully but also effectively. What is concerning is the number of individuals, who clearly don't have the necessary skills as a teacher, trying to help learners with their work. These individuals take advantage of the fact that increasing numbers of learners need extra tuition, especially in subjects such as maths and physical science. Of course these individuals either only care about the remuneration or they wrongfully believe that they have what it takes to be a good tutor. The net result is that the learners' learning becomes severely compromised.

There a very few people that have the necessary combination of subject skills and personality to fulfill such a demanding position such as that of a teacher. I emphasize combination here because, contrary to popular beliefs, being a subject expert alone does not make one a sucessful or effective teacher. It also requires personality traits such as patience and sophistication, as well as the understanding that even as a teacher one can still learn more about the subject area concerned. Furthermore a teacher not only needs to be able to figure out the solution to a problem but also needs to be able to make the learners understand how to arrive at that solution.

What I am saying here is that we may know or be able to understand a message but that is of no use if we can't get that message across sucessfully to the learners. Sometimes that requires explaining several times or maybe even repeated practice of similar types of examples, which requires lots of time and several layers of patience. Learners mustn't get the feeling that the teacher is giving up on them. Encouragement mixed with a certain amount of firmness is required to motivate the learners to take an active part in the learning process.

The teacher needs to know when to step in and assist the learner and when to let the learner work independently. Too much independent work will leave the learner lost and feeling helpless, while not enough independent work will make the learner too reliant on the tutor which leave the learner not knowing what to do when faced with similar problems on their own. How much help and independent work is unique to each learner. This kind of intuition comes naturally to those who have a teacher's personality and it cannot be acquired through any amount of training from even the best tertiary institution.

Another common misconception is that those with a teacher's certificate can teach and those who have one can't teach. It stands to reason that because a major part of a teacher's traits is his or her personality (and personality can't be taught which means no certificate can include personality training) it is fair to say that having a certificate doesn't make one a better teacher than one who doesn't. Someone with just barely average subject knowledge can easily make up for this by learning on the job if he or she has the aptitude for the subject and still be a good teacher provided that he or she has a good enough personality.

A teacher needs to be a "people's person" because we are tasked to teach people. The teacher needs to be friendly so that the learner is made to feel that the teacher is approachable should the learner need assistance. It is also imperative that the learner knows that the teacher has his or her best interests at heart, therefore the teacher needs to be warm, loving, caring and supportive. Granted, it isn't easy being a teacher, but natural teachers always come out on top no matter how tiring and difficult it is.

Here are some of my other pages that you might be interested in:-

Jokes to turn the blues away
Obeying the king of our bodies
A mouse with a lion's heart
Diversity is good for human relations


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Meet the author

author avatar Prienderen Moodley
Writing is about the heart, I want to touch peoples' hearts about something important like love. If something touches the heart, it makes it thought provoking.

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