How to be a great teacher

kald asks: How can I be a good teacher?

Hi kald –

There are a lot of classes, books, and videos for schoolteachers about how to be great.  But from my experience of kids, I’d sum it up in four suggestions.

#1 is keeping them focused.  In today’s rapid-fire world, it is harder than ever to keep kids still and interested in their studies for hours on end.  If you look at my answer to ethan23’s question about concentration, I explain a lot about that.

#2, I’d argue, would be Interest.  All teachers can get kids to parrot back lessons and facts.  Good teachers get them to care about the lessons.  They are able to get kids to see what is important about them, and take Interest in the subjects themselves.  (GREAT teachers are the ones who impart Passion for the subjects to those kids; who pass on their fascination and unquenchable thirst for learning.  That’s the sort of teacher who truly changes lives…  But you only asked me how to be a “good” teacher!).

#3 is Fairness.  It’s hard to be fair to all the kids you teach, but it’s so important.  The kid who gets away with something because they’re normally so nice will learn great skills of manipulation; the kid who is punished for something they didn’t do will learn not to trust; and all the kids will remember how you were, the ethics you modeled, more than anything you teach.  It’s impossible to always be right, but if the kids see you trying to be fair, that’s the best gift you can give them.

#4 is to Have Fun!  Everyone can remember a strict teacher who loved teaching, and a goofy teacher who loved teaching; but we tend to forget the ones who didn’t enjoy it (unless we remember them being super-mean!).  Why are you a teacher?  What led you to it?  What’s the best thing about it?  What were the things you didn’t like about your teachers that you’d like to improve on?  This is your chance!  You get to act on all these things now!  And that could, and should, be a Blast!  Like, if I taught a Dog Obedience class, oh sure I’d teach all those things like sitting and heeling and staying… but I’d also make sure to teach the people in the class to give their dogs Lots and Lots of Treats!  Because that’s what was best about my class… and it would be So Fun to make that happen!


If you can keep the kids focused, impart your interest, be fair, and have fun… then yes, I think you’ll be a good teacher.  Or maybe, just maybe, a great one!


Good Luck!



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