Defining a ‘good teacher’: Can we do it?

What makes a good teacher?

This question has been swimming in my mind for the last month or so, and I still really have no answer. From my standpoint a good teacher needs empathy, humour, wisdom, social skills, and a knowledge of themselves. Of course there are more. However, I don’t feel that acquired skills should be neglected either – i.e. planning skills, technique – since these are integral to being an excellent leader in the classroom.

However, I really get stuck when I start to consider how society (and its various members would answer this question). What do parents feel makes a good teacher? How do students define a good teacher? How do governments define a good teacher?

With the recent STF debates (and still contract-less teachers) I am wondering even more about this question. Teachers need to define what good teaching is before the government does. Soon, we could see our pay scale defined by being a ‘good teacher’ and I can already picture pay raises being determined by scores on standardized exams – and I am appalled. Teachers, we need to unite and answer this question, before someone answers it for us.


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