“That said, being a teacher today is probably as challenging as it was for Sisyphus to roll an immense boulder up that proverbial hill. After all, education is a multistakeholder endeavour and school is a microcosm of adult reality” (What Values And From Whose Perspective, Mr. Jedidiah Clarice Tan).
In light of the recent transgressions involving a small number of teachers in Singapore (here, and here), Mr. Jedidiah Clarice Tan wrote a poignant piece – “What Values And From Whose Perspective” (February 23, 2012) – expounding on challenges faced by the teachers today, and the importance of having multiple stakeholders involved in moral education. He also intuitively pointed out the observation that students tend to lose grip of their moral compasses, when “adults … say one thing and do another”.
I figured it would be meaningful to take a straightforward tangent from his propositions, look back on my personal interactions, and identify common characteristics that made some of my teachers truly outstanding. Expectations of excellent moral conduct, proficiency in expression, as well as confident mastery of syllabuses and methodologies should be a given; but those who value-added my schooling adventure possessed something extra, something more.
What Makes A Good Teacher, Great
From my experience, there are two distinct factors that make good educators great: first, the ability to motivate and empower their students to do their best regardless of their ambitions; second, to be constantly cognisant of their students’ demands and expectations.
Because of the general rigidity of our education system, and the pedantic focus on academic-scholastic achievements, it becomes very convenient to judge an individual’s worth or abilities based on his report card per se. Working closely with the parents, a great teacher is deeply aware of the strengths and weaknesses of his students, and encourages them to better themselves progressively. My teachers were not hung up on class or school rankings; rather, they were more concerned about engaging the students, and demanding improvements in or outside of the classroom.
To be a great teacher, one has to constantly put himself in the shoes of the student, and fully comprehend the elements involved in teaching-learning pedagogies from the student’s perspective. Even with the most monotonous or didactic curriculum, great teachers have the unique capability – under the most unfavourable circumstances – to enthuse participants, without compromising the quality of the instruction. From the creative employment of information communications technology to the incorporation of independent learning methodologies, the great teacher empathises with the student.
A version of this article was published in TODAY.