What makes a good teacher?

Because I’m regularly in four schools, I see a lot of teachers. I talk to more than I see. And not just primary teachers, but high school teachers, support teachers, yoga teachers, instrumental teachers, uni lecturers – my life is full of people who teach.

Before I go on, let me say how much I admire these people. Well, most of them. I see loads of really good teachers – and I appreciate them. Most of them go above and beyond. They love their job, and do it with all their heart. They are passionate about giving what they know to others, and opening doors of learning. Nearly all of them aren’t paid enough.

I was talking to a teacher in a school last week that I like a lot. We were talking about how he sees his class in music, and the steps that kids are taking. “You know what makes a good teacher, Rach?” he says. “Connection. It doesn’t matter what you are teaching – if the child feels a connection to you, you can teach them nearly anything.”

I’ve been thinking about this – and you know, he’s right. Substitute his ‘child’ for the more generic ‘student’, and I think he’s hit the nail on the head. How do you get that connection? I think learning names of the people you teach is really important (some others don’t – but I do. I practise names all the time – I look at class photos, read newsletters from schools and test myself. I work at it. I’ve been told I’d be a good card counter…). Laughing is another thing I use to make connections. I clown around. I use not-so-normal-for-a-teacher language. I poke fun at myself. Other teacher do it other ways.

I was thinking about the teachers I’ve loved. And all of them I thought I ‘knew’. And that they ‘knew’ me. Maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t. Doesn’t matter – the important thing here is I thought they did. I also thought they liked me. The best teachers I see have their students thinking they are all liked. Loved, even. And then students will accept criticism. And allow you to take them out of their comfort zone. And grow. And that is teaching. Well, I think so….