For years, the secrets to great teaching have seemed more like alchemy than science. One of the greatest impact a person can make is having an impact on a child. Teachers can, and do, change lives. They can light candles in the darkest mind. They can mold beliefs and behaviors, setting an example to follow. They can have a direct impact on careers.
So, what makes a great teacher? First, there is the enthusiasm and passion for their subject. They show the thrill and pleasure of acquiring skill and knowledge in a particular area. And they are able to communicate this. Indeed, they cannot hide it. You can’t easily fake passion – or at least not over a sustained period. All great teachers are passionate. Teachers with passion for teaching had often said that helping a child academically is an incredible accomplishment in itself for them. They are kindly parental substitute; they want to bring the best out in their students. They do not compromise but they do encourage. They understand the learning process and the markers along the way. They are able to get the best out of the people they teach and it is often for this that they are profoundly admired.
A teacher with passion constantly updates material and methods. Every generation needs a new introduction to a discipline. Pupils come with diverse experiences and expectations. Their ‘hot (and cold) buttons’ are peculiar to them. They need to be approached differently. The inspirational teacher must therefore always be in fashion. It goes without saying that they have to update their own knowledge as well.
The issue of adaptation and flexibility are of great importance. This entails much including knowing how to interact with different students and appeal to people of backgrounds. The intelligence, aptitude, social background and individual values of students dictate that they have to be approached differently.
A great teacher is, both a coach and a model. All great teachers bring their topic alive by constantly referring to current events and how knowledge of the subject enables better understanding of the world we live in.
And why are teachers with passion the way they are? The answer is a combination of Intelligence, knowledge, a variety of skills or all of the above. But most say they became teachers or lecturers because they themselves had a teacher who had passion for teaching and in having these attributes, inspired them also. So, it’s not genetic… but it is certainly passed on. Passion takes a teacher from merely being good to great.