Teaching is a skill as much as it is a necessity, and that latter demand can often become the most predominant feature about the profession when it’s discussed. A shortage of teachers or the way that teachers are positioned inside a wider educational system can infringe on their ability to actually do their jobs to the best of their ability. It can also reduce the conversation around them to one of broad strokes and generalizations when teachers are individual and have unique teaching styles.
The question of what makes a good teacher is a very difficult one to answer as a result of this, but one that’s well worth exploring despite the challenges.
Before you can even start thinking about styles of teaching, you have to think about what you have access to. This is why underfunded educational institutions can be such a problem, because the teachers there don’t have anything to work with, and as a result, end up working with cheaper, ineffective or just outdated materials. It’s difficult, as a consequence of this, to really separate teaching from the wider political situation at play, which can be frustrating for teachers who are looking to simply provide the best education possible.
However, there’s also an argument about how resources (when available) are incorporated into a lesson to begin with. Leaning on them too heavily without the educational input and framework of the teacher might not lead to a lesson that serves its purpose. However, an engaging lesson that incorporates writing prompt worksheets to put that knowledge to the test might have a more lasting impact due to its utility. In this sense, it can be argued that the resources should be more of an accompaniment to the lesson rather than the focus, even when effective resources are available.
An Engaging Tone
Thinking back to your own experiences of teachers over the years, if you focus on the ones who made a positive impact on you, there’s probably an inexplicable quality to what made them engaging. If you contrast them to the teachers who you never enjoyed spending time with, the reasons for your enjoyment might become more apparent. Reading from books, putting up PowerPoint slide after PowerPoint slide and simply reading what’s written on them is unlikely to lead to an engaging lesson, it might just seem as though the teacher is doing what’s required of them.
Instead, an approach that feels more dynamic and focused, requiring and encouraging the students to put forward their own ideas and suggestions can help them to feel much more involved and interested. You’re hoping to pique their curiosity, and understand what questions they should ask next so they can eliminate gaps in their knowledge. In a lot of ways, you might find that the passion someone has for teaching might be more likely to manifest itself in their teaching style, though this isn’t always going to be consistent due to various factors that might often be out of your control.
However, an element of flexibility is also important to consider here. After all, not every student learns in the same way, and adapting your approach depending on your audience might help your teaching method to be effective with different groups.
Empathy and Patience
This is something that some people might ultimately struggle with when it comes to cultivating a strong teaching style. Not only do you have to think about what works well in a general sense, but you also have to take into account the endless individual differences that are going to manifest themselves as you teach different students. It’s understandable that you might be frustrated when some of your students are gliding along with minimal difficulties and responding perfectly to your way of teaching, while others just don’t seem to progress at all. When some success is still present, it’s easy to think that the fault lies with the student, but again, this may well not be the case.
To improve your teaching in this area, you’ll need the right level of empathy and understanding. Sometimes this means accepting that you might have to do things differently in order to get the results that you’re looking for, but it also just means being patient enough to hear your students out and take the time to teach on their terms. This is in itself a mark of a good teacher—someone who’s more concerned with the education and well-being of their students and willing to go that extra mile in order to ensure that they improve your own teaching as a result of this.