Monday, September 5, 2016

Good Teachers

It often comes up with my adult students who are studying to be counsellors, healers, spiritual leaders, or teachers.

What makes a GOOD teacher?

Know your stuff
This seems to always be first on the list. The teacher must know the material they are teaching, must be able to understand it and apply it. They must have experience in it. They should be able to answer questions in it. Granted, they may not have all the answers, but knowing their stuff means that they will know where to look for the answers they cannot provide.

Be prepared
Teachers should come prepared with their materials for the class. They should have their assigned readings done in advance (not assign things they have never read). If they are supposed to provide supplies to students, then they should definitely have those supplies prepared in advance. As a safety measure, they should also have a few extras of the expected supplies in case students come without.

Be organized
Teachers who are disorganized and scattered have a hard time organizing their thoughts and a difficult time passing that knowledge on to their students. Organization gains one respect and makes things simply easier to do.

Communicate in a timely fashion
Students (and parents) need feedback in a reasonable amount of time. This usually means in a few days to a max of 2 weeks. On average, people expect some kind of feedback within a week, or at least a note with an exact time they can expect feedback. Feedback that comes late might interfere with future plans for the student and damage the student's ability to move forward with confidence (or at all). It shows you respect the students (and parents) and that you are bot responsible and accountable.

Be on time
If a teacher is late they will not be able to be organized. They will not appear prepared. The stress and rush may cause some disarray in the class and put off many students. It will make both teaching and learning difficult for all. It disrespects everyone who was on time.

Be compassionate
Know that life sometimes happens and you have to be a little bit forgiving when a mishap does occur. Be ready to explain yourself and communicate clearly and openly. Be compassionate with students. Life happens to them too. They may be having a very hard time learning, or lack the tools they need for the class. Sometimes they are struggling with a learning disability. Sometimes their home life is full of strive and stress, not conducive to preparing for class at him or doing homework. Sometimes they are just too poor for basic things: food, a shower, clean clothes, school supplies. Come prepared to listen, to understand, to help. Help can be just knowing resources they can turn to. Help might mean having extra supplies on hand and extra copies of things to loan, or make arrangements with the library to have these items reserved to ensure the students have access. And sometimes, it means having some extra bottles for water, some fruit, or other healthy snacks available. Food is fuel for the brain, and the brain needs fuel to have the energy learn. Sometimes this compassion means you understand that a student simply learns in a different way and you try to accommodate that different style so they can still learn and keep up with the class. If the home is not conducive for doing homework or assignments, maybe make sure you have office time where students can come to either just talk or make use of a quiet space to work in.

Be flexible
A teacher who is rigid in their styles may lose students. Be flexible. Be ready to adapt if the students are not "getting it" via the first way you present it. Sometimes learning happens better with visuals, sometimes with hand-on show and tell, sometimes with writing and listening, sometimes with reading in advance and discussing after. Be flexible to the needs of the students so you can bet reach them and help them learn. Much of flexibility goes back to being compassionate. Life happens, not just to you, but to your students. Flexibility is part of being compassionate.

In all things, stay grounded and calm... and just be kind (in word and deed).

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