Good Teacher Traits (Part One)

 Good Teachers

If you are planning to take up teaching or have recently joined this profession, the following pointers are worth keeping in mind. They are entirely based on my own personal experience and may or may not be applicable in your life as a teacher.  My tips and tricks revolve around middle and high school students but they can easily prove helpful to primary school teachers as well. Moreover, the following points are not written in order of importance but in the order in which they popped up in my mind. Happy reading and feel free to comment. 🙂

1. Know Your Subject Well:

A good teacher must have an excellent command over her subject.  You must know everything that’s  a part of your curriculum and even beyond that. Students of today know more than you can imagine. In many cases, they may even try to corner you, so make sure you know how to handle that smart Alec on the first bench. Also, it is always worthy to share some points and ideas with your class which are not a part of the curriculum. It tells the students that you are really committed to your work.

2. Know Your Students Well:

You are most likely to hit the jackpot if you are aware of the strengths and weaknesses, the hobbies and other personal interests  of your students. Though this would only come with time, knowing your students personally can do wonders in making yourself heard in the classroom. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses will help you prepare student-friendly lesson plans. Having knowledge about your students’ favourite movie stars or their favourite songs will help you easily make a connection with them. Students will like you if they know you share their hobbies and interests. When you like someone you can easily learn from them.  So, make sure you know about Keisha, Taylor Swift or Rihanna and all the other “cool” celebrities. 

3. Make Lessons Interesting:

Even if you know your subject well, you can’t really make an impression in the classroom if what you are teaching sounds boring. For that fulfilling experience, you need to have some interesting exercises or lessons added in your syllabus. Of course you can’t make every class interesting but make sure you do have a generous amount of  lively stuff layered to keep students interested. Also, it is a good idea to come up with exciting activities ( not necessarily related to your syllabus) to boost  student enthusiasm and recharge their batteries.

4. Keep Yourself Updated:

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Reading habit is not just for students but for teachers too. In fact, super teachers are those who love to read. Not just studying your curriculum and teachers’ guides but other materials too like magazines, newspapers and even novels. You should also regularly visit different teaching websites to learn something new and update your knowledge. Reading will particularly help you if you are an English teacher. How else will you tell your students to read and write if being a teacher you don’t do that. Also, keep in close contact with all your teacher friends ( who are working in other schools) and discuss work with them. It’s one of the easiest ways to get an insight of the latest teaching trends! 

5. Encourage Student Participation:

It is essential to have all students take part in class discussions and quizzes. If you are the only person speaking in the classroom, you are not doing your job well. The more the students participate in your class, the more clear you will become about what you need to do next to make improvements in their comprehension skills. Also, when majority of your students raise hands, come up with answers or questions, it only shows how active you are as a teacher. Always remember “Active teacher; Active students!”
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6. Be Friendly But Firm:

As shared in one of my earlier posts, class control is essential. If your audience seem out of control; if they are having a nice time chatting with their classmates or are simply not interested in your presence, it should ring a bell. A class that is noisy and undisciplined will not learn anything. At least not from you unless you know how to put them right. So, just remember to strike a balance between being friendly with your students and being firm and assertive when it comes to work. 

7. Avoid Favouritism:

This part I have always found the most difficult. I’m working on it but I have not fully achieved it. In every batch you will find yourself falling in love with certain students. Sometimes their polite behaviour wins your heart, sometimes you find their sense of responsibility so adorable, while at other times you love the way they listen to you. So, the list is basically endless. But a good teacher should make sure she treats all her students equally. I remember once one of my students said to me that I was favouring some of her classmates more than others. It made me feel guilty because that was true.  Students wouldn’t respect you once they know you don’t know how to practice justice.

8. Punish Students When Needed:

Now this is really a challenging part. With so much pressure from the school administration, parents and the media in general, if you punish your students for bad bahaviour or incomplete assignments, you will make yourself look like a vice. But simply forget about your sweet image. You are not Mother Teresa and make sure everybody ( Parents, school administration, students, your colleagues) knows that.  I have always found the results of punishment  quite satisfying. But I do not mean corporal punishment. I only mean things like not letting students enjoy their lunch time or making them sit on the floor etc if their work is not submitted. However, even such acts are mostly discouraged these days and I don’t really like it.

9. Communicate With Students:

It is imperative upon all teachers (or so I believe) to have open communication with all their students. Your students should feel comfortable talking to you just about anything, not just the subject you are teaching them. Good communication between a student and his teachers fosters understanding  and helps children take interest in their lessons. It makes them feel at ease with their teachers as opposed to feeling pressured or tensed. 
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 10. Take Responsibility For Your Work:

Good teachers never forget or delay their corrections. They make sure all exercise books are regularly and carefully marked. There is nothing more off-putting for students, their parents or your boss to see your students’ work not marked for weeks or months in a row. Make sure your checking is updated regularly. Also, never get annoyed if your students do not understand their lessons in the first go. Give them extra time. Tell yourself it’s a part of your job and do it happily for positive results.

11. Accept Your Mistakes:

Teachers are not God and it is only natural to forget something, or make a mistake. It is also very human to not know all the answers.  Never portray yourself as Ms Know-it-all in the classroom. Always tell your students that it’s okay to make mistakes because we only learn when we make mistakes.  Sometimes, when you can’t answer your students’ queries, there is absolutely no need to feel guilty or embarrassed. It’s perfectly alright to tell them that you are unsure about that question and that you’d let them know real soon. But make sure you work on that and clear their confusion as soon as possible. Never attempt to answer them right away( when you don’t know) in your attempt to satisfy them because this would only backfire.

12.Reward Students For Good Work:

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Good behaviour, a creative essay or a confident presentation all should be praised. Praises can be showered in the form of detailed and positive comments at the end of their creative work. You can boost your students’ confidence by praising them for a certain assignment in front of all their classmates. Rewards can also include a bar of chocolate. For example when a student delivers an impressive speech or wins a classroom debate, a chocolate bar or even a pack of biscuits as a token of appreciation will make him feel special. 

Writer: Shumila Malik

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