Ten Characteristics of a Good Teacher
The ten characteristics There is a line in Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince that applies to any endeavor, but especially teaching. It reads: “That which is essential cannot be seen with the eye. Only with the heart can one know it rightly. ” The essence of teaching Is difficult to qualify, but that line leads directly Into my most essential criterion. 1. I want a teacher who has a contagious en husiasm for his t teaching”one who, as Rich rd Via says, loves his Stua dents and his work. Mr. Via is an educational specialist in using drama techniques to teach EFL at the Eastwest Center in Hawaii.
I was fortunate enough to attend his teacher-training seminar in Korea In 1976. It was a pleasure to be In his audience. HIS enjoyment in transmitting knowledge and participating In the seminar was apparent and infectious. His passion for teaching instilled a passion for learning in all the participants.
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For me, the most crucial factors in effective teaching are who the teacher is and how he acts in the classroom. This influences the way the stu ents react d toward the target language and, therefore, their success in learning it. 2. I want a teacher who is creative.
Teaching must be more han simply opening a book, doing exercises, and following an outline written by someone else. In the tedium of repetition, the student can go through the motions of doing the exercises without his mind being engaged. What can a teacher do to engage the student’s mind? There are a myriad of techniques that the creative teach r can employ” information-gap exercises, e games, songs, Jazz chants, problem solving, and other techniques that allow the student to utilize the skills he has already developed in his first language. 3.
I want a teacher who can add pace and humor to the class. The humor of one of my teachers had the effect of alleviating my nervousness”of reducing my affective filter. There was a rapport among the students and the teacher because we were all laughing together. We had a good time learning, and we made a lot of progress because we were not afraid to make mistakes; we could take chances. As Krashen would say, the affective filters of the students were low, facilitating acquisition. Another teacher that I had maintained an excellent pace in the class.
She never lost an instant consulting a list or thinking about what to do next; she had prepared Ђ”that was evident”and she was going to capitalize on every second. I was somewhat nervous in her class, but I didn’t have time to worry about it because events moved so quickly. I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat so that I wouldn’t miss anything, and my adrenalin was a positive force. I should add that humor is a double-edged sword: it can backfire, for what is funny to one person may not be funny to another. Humor across cultures can add a layer of difficulty to communication. 4. I want a teacher who challenges me.
I had several teachers who always spoke to me in Spanish, both in and out of class. I felt they were showing confidence in me and chal enging me to speak Spanish. The student’s passive knowledge of the target language is always greater than his active knowledge. There is no reason why a teacher should use any language other than the target language except possibly for purposes of expediency. When a teacher reverts to the native language, he is showing a Number nglls e aching o rum lack of patience with the students’ struggles in the target language. In addition, switching codes is confusing.
I was given a test in which all the in tructions were read to me s n English, so that I would be sure to understand every thing. Then I had to answer in Spanish. But the test had three parts and I had to continue switching codes back and forth from En 1ish to Spanish; I found this very confus ng. It is like going Offa diet”once you cheat a little, then you want to cheat a little more. If someone speaks to me in English, this activates my English channel and I am prepared to think in English. Speaking in the target language to the learner prepares and challenges him to speak in that language.