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Are Good Teachers Made or Born?

Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology


Characteristics of a Good Teacher

This is a question that continues to crop up year after year. It is one that is difficult to answer because the idea of what determines a good teacher is subjective. What works for some schools and students will not work at others.

Then what qualities a student likes depends on the individual student. One student may like certain characteristics while another will dislike those very same ones. There is no real hard and fast rule that will guarantee that a teacher will be liked and good.

I had to learn my lessons just like anyone else who wants to be a good teacher. Were the lessons easy? Sometimes, but not always. Sometimes the mistakes I made, which used to teach me what I needed to reach my goal, were embarrassing ones.

Did I achieve my goal? That question will be answered at some other time but I spent 14 years in the country and did achieve a lot of acceptance by my Korean co-workers and students.

What follows is a partial list of characteristics I have employed over the years as a teacher. I feel that these characteristics are part of what makes a teacher good. There is no specific order to the items on the list, but they are all needed to help a person to be a success in their respective classroom.

1. Love your students.

Though some students made it very difficult to do this at times but whether they are good or bad, a real teacher always loves their students. I have never bad-mouthed a student and will not do that. I also gave them a new chance every time we had class together. Their past mistakes were not brought up.

2. Like your coworkers.

Work with them, not against them. My job was to teach English not correct their methods, style or embarrass them. I made sure that they all had the class material ahead of time and I did not embarrass them in class. I tried to make them look good.

3. Have a desire to teach.

Wanting to be in the classroom made a big difference for me with my co-workers. I gained a lot of respect because I wanted to teach and I wanted to teach my classes. I used to fight to stop my class time from being interrupted or canceled and it paid off.

4. Search for and present the best material.

I wanted the best material for my students and when I could not find it, I either wrote it myself or adapted other work to make sure my students did not study inferior work.

5. Be humble.

I did not do this on my own thus I cannot take the credit and never have. The credit is given to God for He helped me each step of the way. Your students and co-workers will notice your real humility and react accordingly.

6. Do your job.

I was hired to teach, not take vacations, not have an adventure, not to party and I never left Korea save for the odd visa run. Did I have an adventure and vacations? Yes, but I also wanted summer and vacation classes because I like teaching and wanted to teach.

7. Be educated.

If you are going to be a teacher, know your subject well and teach it properly. Those teachers who do not know their own subjects and how it relates to other industries stand out very quickly and are most likely to be ignored.

8. Work out problems together.

In all my years of teaching I never went over the heads of my employers. We solved everything in house, sometimes I won and sometimes I lost but I also learned from those losses and how to avoid such problems in the future.

9. Do not interfere with the educational system.

No one is hired to change the Education System. They are hired to teach specific subjects and that is what they need to focus on. There is no perfect system, thus the teacher should not be distracted by falsely perceived problems and concentrate on their class time.

10. Do not listen to other teachers about your school.

They do not care about your students so why open yourself up to bad advice that will only cause trouble for you. Be wise and discerning to guard your employment from those who may not want you to succeed.

Some Final Words

Everyone will have their own ideas and experiences that lead them to conclude that they are a good teacher. Or that they sat in the classes of a good teacher. That is okay as there is a variety of ways to connect with students and make your teaching time the best it can be.

© 2018 David Thiessen


Jane Aley on October 15, 2019:

I believe some people were born to teach, it is something in them, a desire to give to others especially when it is giving something very valuable, the power of knowledge, and ofcourse with effective teacher trainings, it will certainly empower, enhance and strenghen the skill or gift, if I may say, they already possess in a positive way leading to success.

David Thiessen (author) from Philippines on December 09, 2018:

The above does not replace good training. IN my case, you had to train on your own as the Koreans do not offer much to foreign teachers

Liz Westwood from UK on December 09, 2018:

We have 3 teachers in our family so I have read your article with interest. In my view natural gifting combined with good training works well.

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