What makes a great teacher?

The video about what makes a good teacher great is actually a question asked to real students by a teacher. With 26,000 responses collected from 8 different schools and 24 years of teaching experience, the teacher would be enough to make a credible talk backed with actual data and real-life experiences. However, just like what the speaker went through, I also asked the same question why we don’t ask our students with questions that can give us valuable feedbacks towards our development as teachers. As a practice, I always start the school year by letting my students fill up some survey questions, but mostly these questions are intended for me to know them so that I could design my future lessons according to their interests. It never occurred to me to ask them questions like what it takes to be a great teacher because of the general assumption that they may not take the question seriously and it doesn’t benefit them. Like the speaker in the video, I encountered responses that are difficult to make sense. The only difference between me and the speaker is that the speaker reached out to the students after they appeared so many times for many years of collecting responses to the question. For example, the first response highlighted by the speaker is that “a great teacher eats apples”. At first, one will really have difficulty trying to make sense of how would the act of eating an apple makes a great teacher. But then again, this kind of response appeared so many times that prompted the speaker to wonder what it means from the perspective of the students. So he then started eating apples which allowed him to connect to the students and helped him realized that the apple is a symbol of their relationship and that there were goodness and trust involved. But for a long time, the teacher wasn’t listening and hadn’t understood its deep meaning. Another perplexing repetitive response was that “a great teacher isn’t a teacher”. If one would comprehend this in the literal sense, some will surely be offended. Like the previous response, for us to decode its meaning, we have to reach out to our students to listen and understand them because there are some things our students learned outside the school that makes a huge impact to their whole being like learning about the bike from their parents. Just think how bike is taught within the four corners in the classroom and the bike taught outside the walls of the school. Some students who learned bike outside the school may tend to become bike enthusiasts when they grow up as a result of a meaningful learning experience. In this context, one would be able to appreciate student’s response why a great teacher isn’t a teacher for them. In a time where the young generation are oftentimes misunderstood for being entitled and countless assumptions towards them, one would need some listening skills to understand them. But since it’s not oftentimes that they see adults listening to them, it’s not also a surprise to hear some members of the younger generation unable to understand the older generation. So just imagine what will be the impact of a listening teacher to the lives of our students and the society as a whole, it will surely reverberate across our societies regardless of our religious and political affiliations. Many conflicts in the world today exist because of the lack of willingness to listen. If the young generation who will soon run the world today is armed with a listening power and understood its huge importance in real life, then imagine the limitless potential they can do to make the world a better place to live in. So what makes a good teacher great is not about how much knowledgeable you are with the content that you are teaching, but the ability of the teacher to listen and be able to learn and understand students.

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