What makes a good education? The teacher!
Changing the narrative that a good education equals an expensive education
Just what is it that makes a good education? What is the deciding factor? Is it the cash spent or in fact the characteristics, style of teaching and engagement of the teachers? We’re here to argue that the most important factor in an education is always the teacher.
It is incredibly difficult to measure how ‘good’ a teacher is – for example many struggle to pinpoint exactly what made your Primary School teacher so great and why they are still your favourite after all these years.
However, SpringerLink has attempted to break down the four potential categories to consider when determining how good a teacher is: teacher characteristics, value-added models, student ratings and classroom observations.
In this blog, I will specifically focus on ‘teacher characteristics’ and how the characteristics of a teacher will, more often than not, be more powerful in producing a good education than the resources in a classroom.
Arguably, the teacher’s most powerful tools are:
- Passion for their job, subject and sharing knowledge
- Strong intersectional teaching style
- Respect and empathy for their students
There’s no mention of technologies or equipment!
Personally, one of the greatest classroom lessons I have ever attended was when my teacher was truly brimming with passion for their subject – this teacher paced back and forth, near exploding with excitement over the content they were telling us. It was as if they could not get the information to us fast enough! The entire lesson was interactive – no need to put our hands up for permission to speak, we had the liberty to shout out questions and answers. We reciprocated the enthusiasm. I believe that this lesson was so memorable and uplifting because the teacher was passionate – they truly loved what they were doing and teaching, moreover they were ever so desperate to pass on the love for the subject.
As students, our first taste of adults beyond our parents are teachers. They are with us many hours a day from a young age, preparing us for the world. So, how can a teacher who does not recognise the different cultures, sexualities and ethnicities in the world be a proper introduction to the diversity of the planet? Minority students require the same representation as much as the majority, therefore intersectionality is an integral part of a teacher. The ability to teach with different perspectives in mind, and the ability to include the excluded is a trait that I believe is fundamental.
A teacher who lacks a sense of the struggles that youths go through will find it difficult to connect and communicate with their students. The word ‘empathy’ is batted about so often, that sometimes we forget the true depth of the meaning – it is the extremely unique human capability and quality of being able to, or trying to, understand someone else’s feelings. A teacher may deal with up to 25+ individuals daily, and see or teach them regularly for the rest of the academic year, so naturally a trust bond forms. The quality of empathy within a good teacher is a requirement because it treats the students with respect and takes into account their personal difficulties. For example, if a student approaches with late homework, multiple absences or a gap in their knowledge, the way that the teacher responds to these difficulties will determine how the student will engage with lessons for the rest of their time in the school, possibly affecting their love of the subject matter permanently. Empathy comes in many different forms inside the classroom, but altogether it is a powerful tool that drives trust, enables students to feel like valued individuals, and it also allows for a safe environment to grow.
I believe these three characteristics are essential to the make-or-break of the quality of a teacher but recognise there are many other contributing factors. Notably, none of these main characteristics require updated or advanced technology nor any kind of private education. This is why society should be aware that, certainly access to technology is the future of education, but within the classroom it can be argued that a passionate, intersectional and empathetic teacher is first and foremost what makes a good education!