What is an effective or excellent teacher?

This was a question in my Adjunct Certification class.

My answer:

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past year about what makes a good teacher. I’ve surfed the net for hours to find out what other people say about this.

Does effective = excellent? Not necessarily. I think that all excellent teachers are effective, but not all effective teachers are excellent.

Thinking back about my favorite, most inspiring, teachers, I have found that they are the ones who not only have classroom management skills, know the subject area, and can explain well, but those who have an enthusiasm for the subject and an enthusiasm for their students.

For example, I wrote a research paper for my ninth grade history teacher. I spent a lot of time on it. I did my best. It was much more work than was required for the assignment and really was several research papers in one binder. There were some problems with it. But I had worked hard on it.

Mr. Klinger gave me an A+ and included an op-ed piece from the NYTimes with my research paper when he returned it. This op-ed was written by a man whose wife was a teacher. She read him a paper because she thought it was so far above the other papers she had received over her years of teaching. But she was giving the student an A- because it wasn’t perfect. “Isn’t this the best paper you have ever received?” her husband asked. “Yes,” she answered. “Then why not give it an A+?” “Because it is not perfect.” The writer said that he thought the best paper she had ever received deserved an A+ even if it wasn’t perfect. And so, in one simple reading, Mr. Klinger made clear that my paper wasn’t perfect, but it was one of the best he had ever received.

I still have the paper and the op-ed piece. It has encouraged me many times over the years.

Mr. Klinger was an excellent teacher.

I try to emulate him in my classes. I am not always successful at this.

2 thoughts on “What is an effective or excellent teacher?”

  1. Teaching and learning go hand in hand. Feedback in the communication process makes all the difference. Feedback can be verbal and non-verbal which makes or mars the enthusiasm of the learner. Classroom management and subject knowledge are important but of foremost importance is to inspire the learner to make learning a lifelong process, a quest, a search.

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