Teachers are living saints, besides our parents. They make us a better person. They teach us to live a better life. They instil values that we never forget. They inspire us at all times. They may look tough, but it is all for one reason, which is to bring out the best in us.
Teachers make a better world. They teach their pupils as if they were their own children. They spend every breath, sweat and blood to make us better. They prepare the children of today for a brighter tomorrow.
These are countless traits that make teachers great. I’ve borrowed 15 unique traits or behaviours that are observed in great educators over the years:
TEACHERS can say everything without saying anything at all. Experienced teachers have perfected the use of facial expressions, and can say anything to a student with just a glance. With an eyebrow lift, a student or an entire class understands whether to “be quiet”, “be good” or it could even mean “great work”;
TEACHERS don’t accept failure. They try every day, at every class, with every angle and strategy to help students learn, understand and ultimately succeed;
TEACHERS care. Teachers love every student in their class, irrespective of whether they are clean, good-looking, poor or rich, or from different religions or backgrounds. In fact, the ones who are hard to love become their special students;
TEACHERS are fabulous communicators. They love to talk and listen to students, other teachers and parents. They choose their words wisely, carefully and can say anything with a smile yet still be firm, stern and positive;
TEACHERS are agile and adaptable. They can change a lesson or an entire class in a moment’s notice, which comes in handy with fire drills or unplanned interruptions. They can turn any moment with a positive swing. They are audible, loud and clear;
TEACHERS are positive. They know their work is challenging, but they’ve accepted the task and know that they can be amazing teachers because their attitude is great and no one can tell them they can’t do something. Teachers remain that way, all the way. As the saying goes, once a teacher, always a teacher;
TEACHERS work hard. They don’t show up and sit behind a desk. They stand all day, talk all day, think all day, interact all day, educate all day, impart knowledge all day and learn all day. The corporate world may not get it, but teachers are busy people. Returning emails and phone calls is a luxury that our days may not afford, but a teacher’s job is never done;
TEACHERS know how to take charge. Teachers have no problem being the centre of attention while making students learn, laugh and scream out of joy and sometimes pain, too. They can also be the boss by using just a small movement or sound;
TEACHERS are creative. They can help students learn something in a million different ways, at any time and in any place. The hallway, the playground, and even the lunchroom are places where important lessons and connections take place;
TEACHERS are humble. They don’t teach to be praised but to make a difference. They never claim credit from their success stories. They remain quiet and almost unseen. There are thousands of success stories out there, but rarely do we hear of a teacher who boasts that he was the teacher of the successful man;
TEACHERS are always thinking about teaching. They plan, research and think about lessons all of the time. They never wait for a blackboard or whiteboard. They always do it now;
TEACHERS are resourceful. They know how to make the most of a lesson with little money, supplies and time. They don’t use laptops or note pads. They will use any available resources to impart knowledge and make sure their students excel;
TEACHERS are organised. They sometimes plan lessons a year in advance. The room is organised, the desk is in order, and the plan is clear for the day because they’ve made sure of it. They also organise school assemblies, sports events and all the wonderful activities that take place in school;
TEACHERS stick together. No one understands or relates to the activities of a classroom like another teacher. When teachers feel frustrated or challenged, they know that talking to another teacher is comforting and helpful. That’s why the staff room is always abuzz with chatter and discussions among teachers; and,
TEACHERS don’t take their profession lightly.
They’ve been trained in a field with no big pay and no great tangible rewards. The emotional rewards of teaching are unexplainable. The satisfaction of teaching is immense. These unsurpassed feelings make up for everything else. The joys of teaching can be so overwhelming that they know it’s one of the greatest professions on earth. Ravindran Rahman Kutty Kuala Lumpur The NST Letters to the Editors 20 May 2015