The Mark of a Great Teacher

I wonder how many of you have read the story of a Catholic school student Mark Eklund and his teacher. All the teachers out there, if you ever feel the need to question yourself about your role in shaping the lives of kids, I would personally recommend to read his story, and take some time to reflect upon it.

I have grown up in the grooves of academics. I have had the good fortune of coming across wonderful teachers who left lasting impressions on me. Therefore, when I say, teachers wield a lot of power in shaping the future of society, I am not exaggerating at all.

Who is a good teacher or an effective teacher?

Many theories and teaching methodologies have been researched, written and talked about. Prerequisites for being a good teacher have been decided, sealed and stamped. But my dear teachers, all the degrees in the world, all the courses in the world or even the most exceptional communication skills will not be of any help if what is actually needed is missing!

Most of us have grown up watching movies, haven’t we? How can we forget the vibrant Maria, the Governess who goes to take care of the Von Trapp children in ‘The Sound of Music’? Or is there anyone who was not moved by `To Sir With Love‘ where Sidney Poitier has beautifully portrayed the role of a teacher who goes to teach in a school with children from a not so privileged part of the society? And the not so recent ‘Dangerous Minds’ where an Ex-Marine played by Michelle Pfeiffer, goes to teach in a school plagued with unruly children. There are many more such movies and books which have beautifully exemplified the profound impact a teacher can make on young and
impressionable minds.

The common thread in all the above was the Passion, Dedication, and Faith towards teaching, and that is what is needed for teachers to be effective.

In my repertoire are a few suggestions which will hopefully help teachers engage their students in more productive ways:

  • Whenever you enter a classroom, enter with a smile and boundless energy. It is infectious. Every time a teacher enters the classroom , the children should be looking forward to what the teacher is going to do.
  • Leave your preconceived notions about children, prejudices and other baggage behind.
  • Be prepared to accept children with different abilities and needs.
  • Do not go overboard with anything. Remember, moderation is the key to success. Too many activities, just because we found lots of them over countless sites; too much information, just because we feel it is interesting; too much dependence on online videos, smart boards or too much of experimentation of all theories that float around in the name of newly discovered teaching methodologies will lead to chaotic minds.

Once a teacher understands that there’s no one way to teach even the same set of children for every time frame of interaction, she/he is already halfway there. Effectiveness comes when teachers find that proper rhythm with their children assess when to switch over from one technique to something else, backoff from something as soon as there is a sense that it would be doing more harm than good. Most importantly – LET YOUR CHILDREN FEEL AND SENSE YOUR PASSION AND POSITIVITY.

And still, it’s only natural that sometimes you have a doubt about your worth. In moments like that, please listen to ‘To Sir with love‘ sung by Tracy Huang.


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