The transformative power of an effective teacher is something that almost all of us can relate to. At some point, throughout your childhood, you may have experienced one or several engaging teachers who made school, or a subject, interesting and exciting. These are the teachers that inspire you to really delve deep into any subject matter; deliberate, debate, and question everything.
A teacher’s influence extends far beyond the classroom. It is the support of highly effective teachers that shape how children learn, develop and grow throughout their daily lives.
Because the social world of a child expands dramatically throughout school, it is important to take into account their past and present relationships, along with those that have a meaningful and lasting impact. According to a study by the Department of Psychology in Oregon & Wisconsin, negative relationships with a teacher or peer is known to set the stage for the development of externalising behavior, including stress, conflict and defiance. This is why the student-teacher relationship is significant throughout education, particularly in the early years and transitional periods; from primary to secondary education.
But what makes a truly great teacher? There are the obvious answers that everyone would agree on; engaging, interesting, caring, fair and respectful. Many people have fond memories of teachers from their childhood and the positive effect they had on their lives.
In a survey conducted by Passing the Baton International (a leadership development program), 367 respondents shared their opinions on what attributes made their teachers stand out to them:
66 respondents said it was down to encouragement and support
56 valued having a caring teacher who had their best interests in mind
51 respondents said that it was when teachers showed investment – inside and outside the classroom
44 respondents said having teachers who challenge students to excel and help them along the way
Other teachers were remembered and described as teaching passionately, helping students discover their strengths, being good examples and encouraging the love of learning.
Interestingly, from the 367 responses, many of the preferred teachers were noted for being strict and firm. Yet there were two other key attributes the majority of influencers encompassed; an attitude of expectation and having a willingness to put in slightly more effort on their students’ behalf. It is these few moments of personal touch that make all the difference.
Whilst you’re at school, you probably would have heard the phrase “School days are the best days of your life.” At that time, you may have disagreed, but on reflection, many adults often look back to their school days with fond memories and a serious case of nostalgia. We asked a number of adults to reflect on their experiences of exceptional teaching and what they said was rather interesting.
But what about in the eyes of children? Specifically, at primary school (ages four to 11).