As a person who has spent more than forty-five years as a teacher, I have been exposed to a wide variety of people who have aspired to be educators. In that time, no more than 25 % actually walked among the noble profession as a "sensei" or master teacher. Those scant few had several admirable qualities:
- intelligent, mastery of subject, logical, reasonable, calm, fair, personable, insightful, authoritative [without hubris], happy, well-rounded, flexible, and loving of her fellow man.
Few people have all of those qualities. I have seen a few who could teach in the classroom, handle problems with discipline and have the child feel better about himself afterwards. Specifically, this lady could then be the first responder on the play ground for a broken arm and calm the child until the parents and ambulance arrived. Then, she could step into a parent-teacher meeting and have the parents eating out of her hands. Furthermore, she treated everyone the same, shared all of her materials, and could make a heck of a "Margarita." What a teacher/woman!
Just two qualities that are needed is too hard. There are so many that are required. Obviously, intelligence and knowledge of the subject are necessities, but that does not make a teacher.
Hmmm...The ability to see into situations that require a common sense approach and not educationese, particularly with students and parents. Students need to understand where they go wrong and have help facing what needs to be done to fix the problems.
Parents need to have the truth given to them and not white-washed to get them out of the teacher's face. However, only common sense will take the teacher through that situation. No one wants to hear about what the child did wrong without a solution to help the problem. This must come from someone who can relate well to the parents.
Great teachers communicate frequently with parents. They reach parents through conferences and frequent written reports home. They don't hesitate to pick up the telephone to call a parent if they are concerned about a student.
A love and compassion for people would be the other quality essential for an effective teacher. Today, children are miniature adults with problems that most of did not face until we were far into our adulthood. An awareness of children's home lives and their struggles will help the teacher provide that safe and secure place that the student can come to and find his own identity every day that he spends with the compassionate educator.