What Makes a Teacher Great? Ask an Expert

There’s no question that education as we have been doing it needs to change. Our students are different, their needs are different, and so is the world they live in. Not enough of our students meet the standards that are currently put in place for grade levels in reading and math.

There’s a lot of talk about the positive impact of a good teacher on students, and the focus is on how to get better teachers in to work with our toughest kids.

Some states base how “good” teachers are on how much their students improve on standardized tests. Others assume that the longer we work, the better we get, and base our pay accordingly. All require ongoing professional development to keep certification current.

I wondered what my students thought about what makes a teacher great. I asked them to fill out a brief questionnaire. In it I asked them to simply tell me what attributes a great teacher had without naming names. The questionnaire was anonymous and administered to 8th grade students in our small Maine public school.

I took the results and removed the word “Teacher” and “makes” as they showed up many times. I then pasted the rest of the students’ writing into Wordle to come up with this image:

What Makes a Teacher Great?

(Clicking the image brings it up in a larger size.)

It helps to have the student responses when interpreting the Wordle.  They can be accessed here: Student Questionnaire Responses.

I found the answers interesting. While is seems as though everything has changed, nothing has changed. Our students want us to know them as individuals, listen to them, make learning fun, and be nice. They want us to know what we are doing and be engaged.

Sounds a lot like what we want from them.



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