On a recent online discussion forum for my AP English classes, I asked students to describe teacher traits or characteristics that they believe are most important for teachers. Here are the top 6 characteristics they provided, listed in order of importance.
- Compassion / Interest in Students
Most of us would probably think that older (12th grade) students would not be as concerned with whether or not their teachers really understand them or are interested in them. Students participating in this activity, however, cited that the teacher's interest in students both inside and outside of the classroom was the most important trait that teachers could display. According to these students, good teachers know students well, care about them personally, want all students to learn the material, and encourage students to excel.
- Passion for subject
Good teachers thoroughly enjoy their subject and display enthusiasm that captures the attention of students. If the teacher is excited, students are much more likely to find the subject interesting.
- Thorough Knowledge of subject
Knowledgeable teachers apply the subject to many different areas and explain why it's important for students to learn the subject. They go beyond the lesson in the textbook in order to maintain student interest. Because they love and understand the subject, they welcome student questions and are better able to simplify concepts that students find difficult.
- Inspiration and Encouragement
Good teachers are personable, happy, cheerful, and optimistic. Students enjoy being in their classrooms and want to learn. Several students mentioned that good teachers push them to learn more than the student ever thought he could accomplish simply because good teachers believe in students and serve as cheerleaders.
- Excellent Work Ethic
Good students are open to learning new techniques, are available when students need extra help, grade work thoroughly, return graded work promptly, and ensure that students learn the material.
Good teachers like to laugh and maintain cheerful classrooms where students feel comfortable and have fun.
Interestingly, students rarely mentioned anything pertaining to how much work teachers assigned in class or for homework, nor did they mention grades.
Tomorrow I'll list the teacher traits that students find frustrating.