Asking our students a simple question like what makes a good teacher great? has proven to be a successful way of learning and growing as a teacher. Being a great teacher isn’t just about knowing your stuff. It’s about taking the responsibility to get to know your students and understand what they need from you.
Are you making an effort to understand your students? Azul Terronez highlights the importance of listening to your learners, and with that, hearing them. Children have their own way of communicating, and to be a great teacher you’re going to need to learn their lingo and hear what they are trying to say.
Here are some key points Terronez picked up during his time asking students, what makes a good teacher great?
Be willing to learn
Learners don’t want teachers who are only content experts. If you can relate to where they are in the learning process, they may be more open to receiving information. When introducing new material, ask your students to predict the outcome and come up with conclusions together. This will inspire curiosity in your students, and make them receptive to learning.
Make yourself humble
Put your pride aside to take risks. To keep your students engaged, you’re going to have to try new things with the possibility of failing. Coming down to your learner’s level will make it easier for them to trust you, and where there is trust, there is a willingness to learn.
Understand life outside of school
The worst thing you can do as a teacher is to assume a student’s home situation. Pay close attention to the children in your class, and try to be understanding of any struggles they might be facing outside of school. A difficult home environment can often affect a child’s educational performance.
As important as it is to be able to match a child’s level of understanding, you still need to hold your leadership position. Your students want a teacher who is in control and won’t contribute to a stressful environment. Remaining calm in an overwhelming atmosphere will help learners feel that they can trust your leadership.
Terronez says that “kids have a way of communicating, and adults just haven’t spent the time listening”. If we intentionally listen to our students, asking questions that will help us understand what they need, we could transform our classroom into an environment where students want to learn and engage with us.