This is not meant to be a controversial subject. It is meant to be an open conversation on what parents perceive a 'good' teacher to be, based on a conversation I had with a group of mothers over the weekend.
I was chatting with some friends over the weekend and one of them mentioned that she didn't particularly like her daughter's kindergarten teacher. My friend said that this teacher was not a very good teacher, in her opinion.
So this got me thinking... What is a 'good' teacher in the eyes of parents?
I asked them all; "So then, what makes a 'good' teacher?" They all agreed that; a good teacher is one that really cares about their children, not just their academics but them as a whole.
One mother commented that she wanted to know that her baby was being looked after.
One of my girlfriends said that her children will come home and talk non-stop about their teacher if they like them. They will beam with excitement as they recount the day or what the teacher said, did or what the teacher liked.
One of the ladies said that a good teacher is someone that will not shut you down when you try to talk to them. They will not seem so busy that they give you a short response and end the conversation. A good teacher answers a parent's questions or concerns and acts on them.
So in summary, in the opinion of a few mothers, a good teacher:
~ Genuinely cares about their students,
~ Cares about the whole child.
~ Makes a parent feel at ease knowing they will look after them
~ Is talked about at home..... all the time.
~ Will not shut down a parent but give them time.
~ Will answer a parents' questions and concerns and follow them up.
You may have noticed that there are no references to academics here. Perhaps this is because the points listed above are a higher priority in the eyes of these parents. It's not that these parents don't hold academics as highly important, I know them, they do, I think these examples are at the core of what they need their childrens' teachers to be.
What do you think makes a good teacher? What makes a great or exceptional teacher?
What perspective are you looking from?
Are you looking at this question as a parent, community member, legislator, parliamentary member, teacher to teacher, teacher to self, principal or student?
Perhaps you could ask your students this question or even your staff and parents?
As teachers, I know we ask ourselves this question each day. You probably ask the same questions I ask of myself: Am I good enough? Was that lesson the best I could make it? How can I help Johnny understand this better? Did I explain that properly? Next time I will..... next time I won't...... the list goes on.
Perhaps a 'good' teacher is a recipe of many things. From experience, I'm sure it is, I know it is. For me, I know that developing relationships with children to find out who they are and how they learn is very important. I believe each child, each person learns a certain way and once we tap into that as teachers, we can make those connections both cognitively and emotionally and induce a love of learning.
There is so much more to being a 'good' teacher but I'm not posting this to note what I think is a good teacher but to pose the question so we can chat about the perspective of the stakeholders of education and the education of our children.
All I know is that teachers do their absolute BEST to be great teachers, to be exceptional teachers. How could this not be true? I see it all the time. Despite the lack of funding, teaching ratios, paying for equipment out of our own pockets, spending hours before and after school, time on the weekend (away from family) planning for the week and the list goes on. Teachers try to be all they can for one reason, for the kids. It's all about the students, all the time.
So this brings us to the paradox between what a parent perceives is a good teacher and what students and other stakeholders see as the definition of a good teacher.
I value the opinion of parents and being privy to this conversation reminds me that I want to ensure their perspective is considered and layered into the day of the students I teach.
What do you think?
We are having a discussion over at our Facebook page, come and join in or leave a comment here.