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20 Characteristics of a Good Teacher part 2

teacher apple

This is in response to several Education: Reform or Remodel subscribers who requested more of my thoughts on teaching. I am very happy to oblige because my belief has always been that, especially from the vantage point of the student, who the teacher is has far more of an effect on the quality of the experience than any other factor—educational philosophy, structure, location, etc.

One subscriber in particular asked for a list of the characteristics of a good teacher, and what comes to mind is that all good teachers:


11.    assume it’s their responsibility to present things in a way that every individual learner can understand, and not the learner’s job to adapt to the teacher’s methods. Good teachers continue to try different approaches until they find the key that unlocks the door to the learner’s understanding.
12.    are good communicators. They speak clearly, with honesty and respect; and they make sure that their criticism is constructive and always based on “I” messages. And then they listen carefully to what their students have to say, encourage them to speak freely, and value their opinions.
13.    understand that learning doesn’t happen under duress. They make sure that anxiety and stress have no place in the learning environment.
14.    are flexible. Aware that a lot of important learning is serendipitous and synchronistic, they are able to shift gears quickly in order to stay in synch with their students’ shifting moods and interests.
15.    know how important it is for children to take responsibility for their own education and their own actions, and so they share initiative, power, and control with them.
16.    respect a child’s inalienable right to say “no.” They don’t force their students to do things they aren’t ready or willing to do.
17.    build strong relationships with each and every student. They also facilitate students doing the same with one another.
18.    recognize the deep developmental value of play. They provide ample free play opportunities for their students, and they also make sure there’s enough play in their own lives because they know how much play re-energizes and restores them.
19.    understand that experience is the best teacher. They minimize the amount of instruction they do by creating a rich, resource-filled environment—with abundant connections to the outside world—that enables students to learn by doing and discovering.
20.    consider teaching to be a calling. They view their work as an authentic sharing of themselves and a way to make the world a better place, not a professional role that confers them status and a paycheck.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. m.i.l. Bunty Ketcham #

    Great list Chris! Should go to all “schools of Education”./..BK

    April 16, 2014
  2. Betsy #

    Awesome! And you do live this, or walk your talk. I agree with Bunty – all “schools of Education” should have this in their curriculum in freshman year. xoxo

    May 15, 2014

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