Is there a formula for being a great teacher? The question needs to be asked ‘is there a right way or a wrong way?’In many cases we find that the modern day ‘great teacher’ would like to teach as they please. They want to do what is best for the pupils. They regard every class as being unique and of needing a different approach and teaching style. A great teacher will strongly object to the parrot-like approach adopted by public schools, thus leading to their eventual ‘defection’ to the private sector.

There are many teachers that are caught in the middle, and strictly adhere to school policy. In reality the best teachers do their own thing behind closed doors. These teachers will dare to teach for more than 10 minutes at the front of the class, and actually try to impart knowledge as well as skills. Public school teachers find themselves in the situation of having to pretend to get their rubber-stamped approval. We need to step back and analyze the situation. Children are different from each other. Schools and classrooms vary immensely. Great teachers should be given the freedom to choose what lesson is appropriate for any given time.

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So what makes a good teacher? We can find a teacher who on the surface appears to have everything: a great degree and good communication/organizational skills. Yet when in a classroom situation they become impatient. Nothing their students do seems to be good enough. We can also find the teacher who has relatively no qualifications, has that extra something ‘special ‘required to be a highly effective teacher.

So what are the essential ingredients needed to be a great teacher?

1) Love your subject. Great teachers not only love their subject, but love to share that enjoyment with their students.

2) Passion for teaching. Teachers can be the extrovert type or the quiet type. Both ways are equally as good.

3) Humility. It’s about the kids. Don’t let egos rule the classroom. Never turn the classroom into a ‘me against them’ situation.

4) Always be willing to improve. Acknowledge mistakes and learn from them. Every day is a new challenge.

5) Have a strong work ethic. Be punctual. Students will notice when you are late. They will also notice laziness. Try to be consistent.

6) Be adaptable. School life is transformative for students and teachers alike.

7) Love your kids. The wellbeing and happiness of the student is paramount. If your students are happy, the general feeling of goodwill will be reciprocated. Great teachers should also: Set high expectations for all students; have clear, written-out objectives; be prepared and organized; engage students and get them to look at issues in a 2 variety of ways; form strong relationships with their students and show that they care about them as people; be master of their subject matter; communicate frequently with parents. Many more additional ‘rules’ could be added to the list. These are just some of the pointers that may help when faced with 40 hyperactive students after lunch on a Friday afternoon! Different types of teaching methods students may encounter.

The friend: Frequently highly academic, living off their adrenaline and wits. They like to be friends with their pupils. The classroom becomes one big bouncing playground of learning. These types of teachers prepare lessons ‘on the fly ‘, often preparing lessons 5 minutes before entering the classroom. Lessons will change direction midway through if hit by some new inspiration. Everything is done with a smile and very disorganized.

The caring teacher:

This kind of teacher tries to shape and mold their students. They may become overbearing at times, but the end result nearly always ends up with a happy and content pupil. The caring teacher is always surrounded by many people, including; social workers, parents and other teachers.

The rebel:

These are often passionate and persuasive, seeing the school as somewhere to transform society. They believe children are somewhat brainwashed and see the classroom as a place for openness and free thinking. More often than not, their lessons are life changing experiences. To them, students are not just ‘another brick in the wall’.

The punisher:

Most reading manuals do not approve of this type of teaching, even though highly effective. These kinds are highly organized, turning their classrooms into mini fortresses, very disciplined and punctual. The punisher always follows the curriculum to the last letter and can be trusted to strictly adhere to the rules. Popular teachers will have strong personalities; they will push students where they think they should be pushed, occasionally bending the rules where appropriate. Always making their classes interesting and knowing how to play on the learners strengths and weaknesses.

All great teachers are liked by most if not all their students. We should never underestimate the importance of being liked when becoming a great teacher. It’s important to note that these different styles of teaching are not learned by having a good academic background alone; they are learned on the job and picked up through experience and by observing fellow teachers. Above all teachers should remember they are part of the 3 school community, and even though that community may be flawed, they should remember to always work for the greater good.

A teacher should never underestimate the importance of knowing what they are doing. The best teachers always have many things in common. They are all professional, confident, and can communicate extremely well. If a teacher is not confident, the students will not take them seriously. Try not to be too funny until you know your class, and try not to be ultra-strict. It is all about being well balanced.

Teaching is one of the most complicated jobs today. It demands a broad knowledge of the subject matter, curriculum and standards; enthusiasm, a caring attitude and a love of learning; knowledge of discipline and classroom management techniques; and a desire to make a difference in the lives of young people. With all these qualities acquired, the goal of becoming a truly great teacher can be attained.