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Feb 26, 2011

A Good Teacher

The Qualities and Characteristics of a Good Teacher
• Good teachers treat their students with respect
• Good teachers don't have double standards
• Good teachers are honest
• Good teachers give their students a lot of choice in their assignments
• Good teachers have creative ways of presenting class
• Good teachers get to know their students individually
• Good teachers stand up for their students
• Good teachers let students listen to music (with headphones on!)
• Good teachers don't give much or any homework
How to gain the respect of your students & make classes interesting
This guide is basically divided into two sections - how to earn the respect of your students, and how to make your classes interesting.
How to earn the respect of your students
There seems to be a common misconception among teachers that being respected by your students means that they "shut up and do everything you command". You could probably do it this way if you want, but I assure you, your students will despise your class.

The basic first step to earn their respect is to simply be nice to them. Now, this doesn't mean you should let them walk all over you, but it does mean you shouldn't walk all over them either. You will need to attain some sort of balance. First of all, if you are having a bad day (as we all do from time to time), the best would be to tell your class, so that they can be careful to not aggravate you. That of course doesn't mean someone won't annoy you, but if this happens then at least an angry outburst from you won't be completely unexpected, and since you announced it to begin with, the others should be more likely to accept your apology if you took it out on someone undeserving. Also accept that some of your students may be having a bad day as well, and treat them the way you would want to be treated in such a situation.

Encourage your students to call you by your first name instead of Mr/Mrs etc. This creates a more friendly atmosphere and helps to do away with the idea that you're an authority figure over them, and will encourage them to be more open and friendly with you.

Try to get to know your students individually. Get to know what they like/dislike, their ideas and needs. This can be a lot of work, especially if you teach at a large school, but if you can grade all that homework and keep track of who the good/bad kids are, you should be able to remember a few personal traits as well.

Be honest with your students. Especially when they ask things like "When will I ever use this in real life?". One thing a lot of kids hate is when teachers tell them that it's important to know things like the formula for a parabola. Most people will never use that knowledge again.

Grade things on time. Just as you would expect your students to hand projects in on time, you should set the example by being timely yourself. If you don't grade things on time, then be sure to give your students the same leeway as well.

Don't censor yourself too much. Most students actually like a teacher that swears a little every now and then. On the other hand, don't attempt slang unless you're totally comfortable with it.

Stand up for your students. If you see them being pushed around or bullied by other students or teachers, try to end the conflict, or at least tell the attacker to calm down.

Also, for male teachers: girls occasionally have something called a "period". It means they have to use the restroom more frequently, and females greatly appreciate the allowance of restroom use to "fix themselves up".

Once you've earned the respect of your students, be sure to keep it! Make jokes, fool around a bit when the time is right - try to keep it casual.
How to make your classes interesting
Whenever possible, give your students choices as to what they would like to do and how they want to do it. For example, after covering a section of work, ask them if they'd rather write a test, have a discussion or do a worksheet on it. You could even divide the class according to what they'd rather do, and let them do that. This also counts for projects and papers. Try to avoid giving the whole class the same topic, unless you have to. Even then try to give them as much leeway as possible.

Try to come up with other ways of presenting things instead of sticking to lesson plans or text books. If you just stand in the front and lecture the whole time, the chances of anyone paying attention are slim.

Also, don't be too eager to offer help to a student, but do make it clear that if they want help they should ask. Some kids like to figure things out for themselves, while others prefer to be told how to do it.

Don't place too much emphasis on keeping your class quiet. Some students will want to help each other or work together, this is a good thing. In fact, don't be the only one talking. Encourage discussion. Let your students interrupt you from time to time to discuss a point. Don't worry if you end up straying off the point a little, just try to keep track of where you were and don't let it go too far. Allow students to move around and sit next to a friend, as long as they do all their work and don't cause major disruptions.

Don't worry about drinks or food in class as long as the class stays clean. If someone makes a mess, they should clean it up themselves right then and there.

Some people work faster and better if there is music. Since not everyone has the same taste in music, allow your students to listen to whatever they like with headphones on, as long as it's not too loud.

Let students start their homework in your class. This way it becomes more like classwork, and whatever isn't finished by the end of class becomes homework. This way whoever works quickly in class doesn't get homework. The other benefit of this is that you are still there to help them, should they need something explained. I have heard so many complaints by kids who sat up all night trying to finish some math homework that they didn't understand how to do in the first place. Also, be lenient - ask your students if they've already received homework for other classes, and how much of it. If they already have a lot, don't give more. The best option would be to just never give any homework, unless the subject in question is something like math where practice is needed.

With regard to assignments, try to work out due dates with other teachers so that students don't get overworked with assignments on different subjects all at the same time.

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