What Makes a Good Teacher?

What Makes a Good Teacher?

May 7 is National Teacher Day. Who were your favorite teachers and how did they change your life? What made your teacher good at their job?

English: This is a photo of George W. Bush and...

George W. Bush and Kimberly Oliver, the 2006 national teacher of the year. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was in third or fourth grade, I remember turning in a test paper by walking up to the front of the room and putting it down on top of everyone else’s papers. But, as I was setting my paper down, I noticed, and started reading, the test that had just been turned in by someone else. I guess, even at that early age, I had a proofreader’s eye. The test paper I was reading had mostly blanks in the answer spaces. And, even the answers that were right were often put on the wrong lines.

Smug in my own answers, and prone to be a tattle-tale, I was about to tell the teacher about this. She stopped me short.

“That is not your paper.” “But, they….” “You may return to your seat.”

As an adult, I now realize that this student might have been struggling for any number of reasons, ranging from a poor home environment, to learning disabilities, to low intelligence. I also realize something else now. It was none of my business. I wasn’t planning to help that student. I was planning to make sure they got a grade that was even lower.

It was my teacher’s job to understand the circumstances that helped or kept that student from learning. It was up to her to be as creative as she could to reach that student and bring them up to grade-level, if possible, or at least to achieve the best they could within their capabilities.

But, she had taken on another job, teaching compassion. Long before the days when privacy was a concern, she understood the need for and decency of protecting that student’s privacy and dignity. And, I am the better for her lesson.

Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers”


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Comments (5 )

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  1. Great story. It can be so easy to jump all over someone for making mistakes or having difficulties. Sometimes it is difficult to learn when it is your place to point these out and help the person.

  2. carolcovin says:

    Thanks, Jon. It was a lesson in how to be a compassionate adult. She taught me way more than reading.

  3. JeriWB says:

    I loved all of my English teachers, and I even became an English teacher. But my favorite teacher was my band teacher. She was so patient, and her patience helped me build much confidence, and not just as a musician.

  4. carolcovin says:

    Do teachers know they have this other impact besides the subject they're teaching, Jeri?

  5. findingourwaynow says:

    What a great lesson to have been taught at a very early age. A good teach is worth far more then we could ever pay them.