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What Makes a Great Teacher?

Some of My Favorite Teachers

What is the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher? Good teachers are nice and teach what they have to. They do fun activities and keep the children engaged. Great teachers inspire students to love learning and to take what they know and apply it to their everyday lives outside of the academic setting. Teachers leave everlasting impressions on their students whether it be good or bad.

Most of my teachers were good, some were great and of course, a few were bad. I've heard horror stories of horrible teachers that could probably care less about their jobs. Those are the teachers we need to do everything in our power not to become, for the sake of the students. As I come one year closer to getting my degree and becoming a teacher, I look back at the teachers that inspired me to take this path. (All the names I use in this are pseudonyms).

I would say 92 percent of all of my teachers have been good. There are three teachers that I have had that significantly changed my life and are a part of the reason I have taken the path in life that I have. Ms. Sohn was my first-grade teacher. I love school and I love challenging myself. Ms. Sohn always helped challenge my thinking so that I could reach my full potential. Sometime during the school year, Ms. Sohn realized that I had more potential then I was showing. She contacted my mom and told her I should be tested for the gifted and talented program. I don't remember any of this but I got in and I got to do that for the rest of elementary school. She's the teacher that opened that door for me. I got to be challenged on a whole new level and with that, I developed a growth mindset which was helpful.

I would say I didn't have another great teacher until I reached high school. Ms. Sanders, Mr. Daniels, and Mr. Combs were probably my biggest support system through high school. They were all my track coaches but they were also the health teacher, physical education teachers, and math teacher respectively. Ms. Sanders was the first teacher I ever had in my high school experience. As some of you may know if you've read my previous post, high school was less than enjoyable for me. However, her class was interesting and she really made an effort to connect with us, students. She was there when I needed guidance academically or personally. Mr. Daniels, I actually didn't like much when I first met him. I never had him as an actual teacher either. He was my track coach. By the end of the track season, I realized he had given me many opportunities and had gotten me very far. He taught me about perseverance and teamwork which I have always been terrible at because I'm so pessimistic.

Mr. Combs has a similar story as Mr. Daniels as he was also one of the track coaches. He wasn't one of my teachers. However, he did go out of his way to make time and help me with my academics. I would go into one of his later classes when I had a free period and when his students were doing busy work he would let me sit in and he would help me with my math from a different class. I have never met a teacher that went out of their way to teach a student that isn't even their student. Sure, he just wanted me to be eligible for track and field but still, I'm impressed.

Overall, what I've learned from these teachers and even the rest of my good teachers that I'll take into my future as an educator are some important key points. I'll always try to help students reach their full potential. I'll make time for my students. I'll try to make my learning environment for the kids as safe as possible. Finally, I'll make sure to connect with my students so that they can feel open to express themselves as they wish. I'm sure I'll do a ton of other stuff too but there's too much to list.