Satish Kumar Mahadeo

What Makes A Quality Teacher?

 

Education must meet the challenges of fast technological developments and globalisation in order to maintain our competitiveness in a knowledge-based economy. In line with this view, any educational reform requires students to be empowered to learn beyond the boundaries of the classroom. Therefore quality education today, apart from providing students with the basic knowledge, should also equip students with life-long skills such as critical thinking, creativity and the ability of learning to learn.

 

The term “quality education” has been advocated and stressed upon by our leaders. Quality education requires Quality Teachers. So, one may ask: “What makes a quality teacher?” Raising the quality of teachers in schools stands above all other issues and should unmistakably be our top priority in education reform. Teaching quality is not about formal academic degrees, but rather about the degree to which a teacher can engage his or her class. Knowing how to teach is more important than knowing what to teach. Therefore, when it comes to quality education it is not what the teacher knows, but how well he conveys that knowledge to students.

The role of the classroom is critical. The teacher is, after all, the point of contact between the educational system and the pupils: the impact of any educational programme or innovation on the pupils operates through the teacher. Thus maximising teacher effectiveness is a major goal of education.

Students spend much of their time in school in the presence of teachers around them. The impact of decisions made by individual teachers is far greater than the impact of decisions made at the school level. Teachers are closely involved in what and how children learn. For most people, it probably seems self-evident that teachers must have an important effect on pupils’ educational progress. The quality of a teacher is one of the most critical components of how well students achieve. Every child deserves qualified teachers. Quality teachers are the critical factor in helping people overcome the damaging effects of poverty, lack of parental guidance, and other challenges. In fact much research has demonstrated that positive teacher-student relationship can enhance students’ academic success. Therefore, a student that consistently has a quality teacher in his/her classroom is more likely to achieve higher success. Research results also reveal that regular contact with high-quality teachers can help economically disadvantaged students catch up academically with their more advantaged classmates. It is clear that a positive teacher-student relationship is important to students’ development, not only academically, but also emotionally.

According to one survey, “What is Quality Teaching?”, both adults and teachers cite having the skills to design learning experiences that inspire and enrich children as the most important quality for good teachers. Having a lot of interest in the job and having a caring attitude toward students also register highly as important characteristics of quality teachers. Having a thorough understanding of the subject matter is the fourth most important attribute of a good teacher. In comparison, only 4% of adults and 3% of educators consider an advanced degree to be a significant measurement of good teaching.

Fligg, L., the author of “What makes a good teacher?” (2005), lists out many attributes that constitute a quality teacher. Some of the attributes include good listening skills, interest in children, good at explaining things, having a sense of humour, etc. Teachers need to be good at explaining things. Being comfortable with explaining content to students is an important skill for teacher. Research has consistently shown that good teachers have a sense of humour, and that they are able to use humour as part of their teaching methods. Humour, used properly, can be a powerful addition to any lesson.

In a survey done by UNESCO in which more than 500 children from 50 countries were asked to identity characteristics of a good teacher, these children included traits such as “love”, “fairness”, being “helpful” and so on. The results of those studies indicate that teachers of younger aged students need to concentrate more on the emotional aspects of their pupils.

If the end product we wish to attain is quality learning for our students, then our goal would be to have teachers who can deliver a quality learning environment. A quality teacher is a charismatic leader. Instead of directly telling his students exactly what to do, he is able to exert his influence on his students in a probably subtle and yet effective manner. The students would be much willing and happy to follow his instructions and listen to his advice. This causes his teaching to be highly efficient and successful.

Different children require different attributes from teachers in order to learn effectively and happily. Every child is a unique and creative individual that is looking for various qualities in a teacher. Good teachers are aware of the needs and capabilities of their students. Teachers would assign different work such that each work is within the abilities of every student. Each child will feel that they are treated with equal importance when a teacher shows him personal interest in his learning. An effective teacher would behave differently with different types of students. Each child is an individual, with a unique combination of abilities and characteristic styles. The differences are important since they can give us an idea about how we should adapt learning experiences for each child’s particular needs.

Students learn best when there is congruence between their preferred learning styles and the teacher’s preferred teaching style. Students’ styles should therefore, influence teachers’ instructional choices.

Children’s personality should also be put into consideration. Being sensitive to the diversity of students and being aware of the research of student differences can assist (teachers) to develop teaching-learning activities tailored to students’ unique strengths and limitations. By trying to match teaching instructions to students’ learning styles, teachers capitalise on the diverse strengths students bring to the classroom. The school must provide opportunities for children’s talents to emerge and grow. This ensures that all are given the same opportunity to grow and excel.

All literature on this issue makes clear that almost no student mentions high professional qualifications as an attribute for a person to become as quality teacher. Qualifications alone do not and cannot make a quality teacher. Personality, character and commitment are as important as the specific pedagogical knowledge and skills that are used in the day to day tasks of teaching.

A teacher has an undeniably high influence on the learning environment of the students in class. The teacher affects not only the learning outcome of the students but also the emotional aspect of the students. A quality teacher is one of the main factors that can make a difference to students’ motivation in learning and achievements.

Satish Kumar Mahadeo

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