I REFER to "A good salary will help" by Marisa Demori and "Experience and passion matter more" by R. Murali Rajaratenam (NST, June 24).
I agree with both on some things about good teachers. However, I do not agree with Murali's concluding statement that it is "an already deflated profession".
What makes good teachers? There are many answers to this question, including ideas based on our experience. Below are a few thoughts on what I think are characteristics of good teachers.
A great teacher is someone who can inspire her charges and bring passion to the job.
ABILITY to connect with students: Teachers who connect with their students are good teachers. They must light up the classroom the moment they enter it. Their teaching must fit students' aptitude. Striving to maintain students' interest in subjects is important.
ABILITY to communicate well: for teachers to succeed and be effective, they must possess good communication skills.
Good teachers must communicate effectively with students.
They are willing to explore innovative ways to make complicated ideas understandable, and fit new ideas into contexts that are understandable to students.
Good teachers can take a subject and make it crystal clear to students.
PASSION for teaching: no one can stay for long in a job if they do not have a passion for it.
The passion for teaching is important to become good teachers. This factor differentiates average teachers from great teachers. Good teachers are people who teach because they have a passion for it.
Teachers with passion give their heads and hearts to teaching. They care about the whats, the hows and the whys of teaching.
They believe they can make a difference to students.
These teachers are committed to working with their colleagues. For these teachers, teaching is a creative and adventurous profession.
HAVE a sense of purpose: as human beings, good teachers should behave ethically.
Teachers should know what their students expect and make plans to meet their expectations. If teachers want to prepare their students to excel in their studies, their teaching should be well prepared and well presented.
ENJOY their work and their students: good teachers must enjoy their work and their students. If teachers enjoy their work, students are motivated, energised and become creative.
REFLECTIVE: being good teachers, they should think about and reflect on their classes, their lessons, their students, their methods and their teaching materials. Being reflective teachers means they compare and contrast, make parallels, and distinctions, review, remove, rethink and restore. This also includes the ability to be self-critical.
Failing to reflect on what happens after each lesson disconnects teachers from the teaching and learning process, and it is impossible to create connectivity if they have disconnected themselves.
GOOD role model: if teachers want their students to excel, the teachers should excel first.
Teachers are role models for students, so they must be at their best in front of children.
If they want to impart values to students, they must have the same values. When students appreciate their teachers as people who uphold high standards and ethics, it is easier for students to take their work seriously.
So, students learn through inspiration, rather than by enforcement and obedience.
CREATIVE and innovative: creativity is another quality of good teachers. With many changes in the syllabus and school environment, teachers should include interesting activities, techniques, methods and exercises to make their lessons fun.
Creative lessons develop interest in students about teaching and learning.
The important point in teaching is whether students retain what teachers taught.
If their teaching is interesting, they will have a class full of curious eyes and ears, absorbing everything they deliver. Students will then learn out of impulsion, not out of compulsion.
Creative and innovative teaching involves passion, attention and positive attitude towards the profession.
PATIENCE: some say teachers who are patient with their students are deemed the best.
Patience is needed when teachers teach the same students, who vary in their ability to understand concepts.
It is important to be patient with such students. Undoubtedly, any disturbance in classrooms may affect teachers' temperaments, but being patient in these situations helps the process of teaching.
Good teachers explain each and every point to students.
UNDERSTANDING: teachers should be understanding. This is another trait of good teachers. Students have problems that need to be understood and steps devised to overcome them.
Teachers should not prejudge students, as this will not bring changes in them. Teaching methods should be flexible for different situations.
Teachers must understand students' viewpoints as this helps in their teaching.
DISCOVERS and encourages: good teachers discover talents of their students.
Students are unique and none of them is weak. Each has a talent waiting to be discovered. In classes, students grasp facts at different speeds.
Thus, some may lag behind in understanding, which just means that they need attention. Teachers must also monitor students' academic development and personal growth.
Some may not know there is a best orator, best singer or best footballer in a class.
Therefore, the teachers' challenge is to transform average students into clever ones.
Every honest appreciation and encouragement students receive will change dull brains to intelligent heads.
HUMILITY: this is rarely seen in teachers and it is an important quality of good teachers.
Teachers who claim to know it all will impart knowledge to students but they may not earn the respect or affection of their students. Students may be fed up with such teachers.
The traits of good teachers will contribute to good teaching. Good teaching involves values, purpose, attitude to learning, and teachers' commitment to providing the best to students every day.
Good teaching encompasses technique, content and presentation.
However, sometimes, we come across someone with tremendous knowledge and qualification but who fails to communicate this efficiently, which will lead to students becoming bored and frustrated.
Also, good teachers always motivate students, no matter how tough the situation is, or how weak the students are.
Good teachers are those who crack jokes in class, but are serious when teaching.
Good teachers can can turn a dull subject into an exciting one. Good teachers are leaders, but they are also friends. Good teachers are those who are always students at heart.
Without these qualities, good teaching will not exist. Teachers need to be committed to five principles: committed to the school, committed to the profession, committed to the work group or colleagues, committed to work and committed to students.
This is not indulgence; it is a professional necessity.
By Dr Dzulkiflee Abdullah, Bau, Sarawak Source: New Straits Times Letters to the Editor 03 July 2012