What makes a good teacher?

8 July 2016

Dear friend,

The holidays are here, that's it another school year crossed off, my 21st to be precise. I looked it up out of curiosity and because I was saying goodbye to my current school. I was shocked to discover that this was indeed my 21st year in teaching. Should there be some kind of medal or party? Perhaps I should be celebrating but all I feel at the moment is dispirited...

Over the years I have had the privilege to work with some great teachers and I am happy to say that my boys have had brilliant teachers this year. But what makes a good teacher?

I can look it up on google and I can find a list of qualities. I can search for the criteria that school inspectors use. I can even look to the American's for inspiration courtesy of the Washington post. And I agree with what they are saying...

Teacher's need:
  • Passion
  • Knowledge
  • Understanding
  • Great organisation
  • The ability to be reflective etc etc

The list can be literally endless and of course it is also dependent on your viewpoint.

What Makes a Good Teacher in 2016 Infographic

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But to me the answer is simple... A good teacher - knows their kids.

A good teacher is passionate and driven because they want to do the best for their pupils, they know them, understand what makes them tick and how they can learn. In short they care...

I pour my heart into my job. I always have done. Over the last few years I have worked part-time as I wanted to be with my family but also didn't want to let go of a career that I loved.

When I ventured into part-time work I immediately felt judged by some people; because I was a mum who worked part-time they assumed that I wouldn't care so much or put in as much effort. If anything this attitude made me work harder. I still wanted needed to be a good teacher!

It is so important that people feel valued, particularly in a job like teaching where, let's face it, most of us do this for the love and passion, not for the money or rewards. Yes, I know some people may say; First you need to value yourself... But one kind word or positive bit of praise can make a massive difference!

I have been blessed to work with some amazing teachers over the last 21 years. It is a pity that we must wait until the end of a school year, the end of a job or the end of a career to show our appreciation and tell people how we really feel.

The fondest goodbyes for me were from colleagues who spoke from the heart, telling me how I had helped them and that I'd be missed and the colleague who wrote a special poem that made me cry. I didn't want to be told I'd worked hard, I know that! I wanted to know I'd made a difference to children and colleagues, I'd made an impact...

My favourite moments in this school have been when I walked into a classroom and a child shouted; Yes it's Catie time! The surprise e-mail from a father who attended one of my lessons and felt compelled to write and tell me how much fun it was and how much he had learned. The note from a parent that simply said; Thank you for loving my son...

It is the people that make our lives special and that make schools amazing places. It is not how many boxes we have ticked, projects we have completed or meetings we have attended. For me, the people will always come first!

The best teachers teach from the heart not from the book...

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