Editorial on ELTNEWS.com
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Editorial

School administrators want to hire good teachers. Parents want to find good teachers for their children. Students prefer to have classes with good teachers. Teachers want to be good teachers.

But, what is a good teacher? It might depend on who you ask.

Teachers say that they attend conferences and workshops because they want to become better teachers. They want to learn new and innovative techniques to become more effective English teachers. They continue to study English in order to develop a deeper understanding of their subject. So, a good teacher is skilled and knowledgeable.

School administrators (at least in private language schools) want to hire teachers who can attract and retain students. Sometimes this is a case of skillful teaching, but often it's also in combination with personal characteristics that students find appealing. So, a good teacher has charisma.

Parents want teachers who will help their children develop as skillful language users (and perhaps pass exams), but they also want their children to look forward to attending class each week. So, a good teacher is a juggler.

Children want a teacher who is friendly and fun, and doesn’t give too much homework. So, a good teacher is entertaining.

Carl Rogers, an American psychologist, identified three core teacher characteristics of effective teachers:

Authenticity
Being yourself in the classroom, not hiding behind your ego or job title.

Respect
Knowing that each student has value, without being judgmental.

Empathy
Understanding your students, understanding their lives, trying to see things from their perspective.

Who’s right? Are the qualities of a “good” teacher universal? Does it matter whether we’re teaching English in a high school or in a language school? Does it change if we’re teaching children, or university students, or business people? And where does a teaching degree or certificate fit into the picture?

What do you think it means to be a good teacher?


Check in every weekend for a new editorial by David, Steven, Theron or me. We love your interest in EFL and your comments!



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Comments

I ask myself this question all the time. But the answer is elusive. Sure, the simplest answer is to say that if your students learn and retain the information you've tried to teach them, then you're a good teacher. But of course it's more complicated than that. Even if your students are speaking a lot more English by the end of the term, will they retain what they've learned after they've done what they've had to do to pass or excel in your class? And perhaps more importantly, have you instilled any or enough interest in the subject in them, so that they'll continue studying it long after you teach them for the last time?

Good points, Matt. I wonder--Is being a good teacher measured by how well we teach, or how well our students learn?

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