What makes a great teacher?
Reflections on three years of classroom observation in Ireland
by Yumiko Kondo, Japanese Language Advisor
A great teacher is the common denominator in classes where students’ learning is supported - the following are some observations I've made as I've sat in Japanese classes in Ireland over the past few years.
A great teacher knows their students: He/she is attentive to the needs of the students and watches them carefully noticing what they are doing, how they are they feeling, what they are they good at, and what they enjoy doing. They ask themselves what kind of supports their students need in order to learn, why their students aren't able to answer the questions given them or why they aren't even bothered to try? As a result of this, he/she is able to give advice on a variety of methodologies and means to learn in order to help a variety of students.
A great teacher is a coach: A student preparing for the Leaving Certificate is like a runner getting ready for a race. Along the way, they are likely to become weary sometimes, to lose interest or motivation, or to take a wrong turn. The teacher can’t actually do the training or running in place of the student, but he/she can show the students how to train and how to achieve the best results (showing them how to learn), he/she can train the students to run better (step-by-step approach to their study), and he/she can encourage students to run using the strength that they have within them (supporting them in becoming autonomous learners).
A great teacher is an entertainer: When do we become so engrossed in something that we forget time? Isn’t it when we’re really enjoying ourselves? Great teachers engage their students in a way that they are enjoying the learning process as well as being focussed on the task they are doing.
A great teacher involves everyone: There are students who like doing group work, and those who don’t, those who are quick to comprehend every new concept and others who understand better when they work through things slowly, those who like to talk and others who prefer to read. Every student is unique and great teachers manage their classes in a way that enables everyone to participate actively.
A great teacher is a learner: A great teacher finds the latest interesting information and makes it accessible to students, continues to study the target language, becoming a good influence on his/her students. The great teacher makes it his/her business to keep up to speed with ever changing and emerging methodologies and tools, thus ensuring that their methodology is both effective and relevant.
A great teacher engages in self-reflection: Would you say that you fulfill the roles above? How do you think your students see you? Is there anything you need to work harder at? What else do you need to do in order to become great？Would love to hear your responses via Twitter @languages_ie