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Topic: 8 Characteristics Of A Great Teacher
Replies: 3   Last Post: May 2, 2013 10:46 PM

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GS Chandy

Posts: 8,307
From: Hyderabad, Mumbai/Bangalore, India
Registered: 9/29/05
Re: 8 Characteristics Of A Great Teacher
Posted: May 2, 2013 10:46 PM
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All 8 "Characteristics of a Great Teacher" listed and described in the article are useful, even perhaps necessary - so I note them below my signature for reference.

But they do NOT, I believe, adequately capture the real 'essence of a great teacher' in any practically useful way. In addition - despite the descriptions provided of each suggested 'characteristic' - the elements in the list are far too 'abstract'.

I believe Philip Hughes, in his response, has done much better to capture 'the essence of a great teacher' - his list is also captured below for reference.

I approach the matter from a slightly different perspective. Consider the case of a 'fresher teacher', and suppose it is you: You sincerely want to become a 'very good teacher' - and, if possible, over time, to become a 'great teacher': so the following is your 'Mission':

"To become a very good teacher and, if possible, a great teacher".

How should you go about that Mission? The list provided in the article is fine for that prospective 'great teacher' to read up and understand (though it is somewhat abstract) - but specifically *HOW* should YOU go about becoming the 'great teacher' you yearn to become?

Starting from whatever you happen to be today (as a teacher), just what are the steps you should take to become, in due course, a 'very good and then a great teacher' - and how should you go about doing them?

The article's list provides a few hints - but no specific steps.

Philip Hughes' listing provides some hints that are (in my opinion) rather better - but no specific steps.

I therefore provide suggestions about just how you (assuming you're really keen on teaching and are willing to go through all the struggle and pain of becoming 'a great teacher') may set about developing yourself to become one.

Well, you've already taken Step 1 (and its corollary):

STEP 1: You've accepted that ambitious Mission and are determined to carry it through, over time (regardless of difficulties that may arise or be confronted).

Mission: "To become a very good and then a great teacher".

STEP 2: Respond, with your own ideas, to the following 'First Trigger Question':

"What, in your opinion, are the THINGS TO DO to accomplish your Mission (i.e.'become a very good and then a great teacher')?"

I put up a couple of thoughts to serve as your initial responses (but please feel free to modify them or reject and and do your own instead):

1. To read and thoroughly understand the article "8 Characteristics Of A Great Teacher"
2. To read and thoroughly understand Philip Hughes' response at Math-teach to the article '8 Characteristics'
3. To read up a couple of other articles on the topic
4. To read up a book or two on the topic

So far, so good. This is a good beginning (but do understand that it is ONLY a beginning - and that this is a Mission that will occupy a fair amount of your life over the next few years).

As you read up the article, Philip Hughes' response, other articles and books on the topic of becoming a 'great teacher', you will find that you may agree with several of the 'elements' that turn up - and that you may disagree with others. Note these agreements/ disagreements somewhere (at your above list if appropriate - or elsewhere - as it suits you).

It is ESSENTIAL that you do this as YOU are the individual working on that Mission! Ultimately, that list of 'elements' must represent what YOU feel about it.

It's YOUR Mission - no one else's!!!

So YOU have to learn how to inculcate in yourself all the characteristics that YOU feel a good (/great) teacher should possess. You will need to observe other teachers you may admire, as well as teachers whom you believe are not good models for you. YOU will need to integrate in yourself all the characteristics of a great teacher.

To accomplish this is, in one sense, quite difficult; in another sense, it is the most natural thing in the world! The process I want to demonstrate enables you to make it entirely natural.

STEP 3 (and onward): All you need to do, via thorough study and observation on the issue, is to find out just "HOW* each of the THINGS TO DO that you've noted may "CONTRIBUTE TO" the other THINGS TO DO on your list AND to the Mission. Doing this enables us to construct graphical, easy to read, models showing just how the THINGS TO DO (as per our perceptions) to accomplish our Mission may contribute to each other and to the Mission.

As your list grows, you may feel it is an impossible task to keep tract of how those 'elements' contribute to eachother. It turns out that the relationship "CONTRIBUTES TO" is *transitive*, which means that:

If element 'A' contributes to element 'B'; AND
if element 'B' contributes to element 'C'; THEN
element 'A' MUST contribute to element 'C'.

This property of "contributes to" renders it entirely possible for us to keep track of just how hundreds or even thousands of elements may contribute to each other and to a chosen Mission, say, "To become a great teacher".

(While we progress on our Mission, we should of course do this modeling of ours on a fairly regular basis - so that we are regularly constructing models of just a few elements and that we do not have to confront the sizable task of constructing models of hundreds/thousands of elements).

You have already understood that this Mission of 'becoming a great teacher' is quite a long-term project, one that will occupy you for quite some time, several years or perhaps your whole lifetime. Thus, that initial list of just 4 'elements' noted above will ultimately consist of a very sizable number of elements - hundreds or even THOUSANDS of them!

There is a little background of 'systems science' involved in using this modeling approach, along with a little technology needed to enable you to keep track of all the models you may construct.

For instance, during the process, you will also need to discover how the various 'BARRIERS, DIFFICULTIES and THREATS' that you may encounter may "hinder" or "prevent" you from doing the various THINGS TO DO that you identify. (

Also, you will need to find out specifically how your particular characteristic weaknesses may hinder or prevent you from doing various things you need to do. (Generally, you'd do this by applying the STRENGTHS you possess to the issue at hand or under consideration).

These relationships "hinder" and "prevent" also possess the same 'transitivity property' that renders "contributes to" a useful modeling tool).

The background technology needed to enable you to construct all the models you need to help develop yourself into a good and then a great teacher is described in outline at the attachments to my message initiating the thread, "Democracy: How to achieve it?" - see .
Feel free to seek clarifications or further information as needed.

(I must observe that Robert Hansen, Wayne Bishop, Haim - and their cohorts and consorts - are rather sceptical, in their various ways, about this approach of mine. Their objections are, frankly, utter rubbish, as you will see if you will look through the sizable number of conversations we've had here at this Math-Teach Forum over the years).

The recommended "Characteristics of a Great Teacher" (according to the article):
1. They Demonstrate Confidence
2. They Have Life Experience
3. They Understand Each Student's Motivation
4. They're People, Not Heroes
5. They're Technologically Capable
6. They Model Risk Taking
7. They Focus On Important Stuff
8. They Don't Worry Too Much About What Administrators Think

Philip Hughes' opinion on the "characteristics of a great teacher":
1,A great teacher respects students.
2,A great teacher creates a sense of community and belonging in the classroom.
3,A great teacher is warm, accessible, enthusiastic and caring.
4, A great teacher sets high expectations for all students.
5, A great teacher has his own love of learning

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