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The ideal teacher

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  • Category: Teaching

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What characteristics should a teacher possess?

What Makes a Good Teacher?

What does being a teacher mean?
• Having a vocation for the teaching profession.
• Being dedicated.
• Being surrounded by a large number of diverse students, each with their own baggage and unique character.

1st Characteristic of an effective teacher
• Should be transmitted in a unique and fun manner.
• One should move from the known to the unknown.
• It is not how much one knows, but how much one can deliver.

Knowledge – Observation 1
• At a particular Boys’ Area Secondary School, it was noticed that the boys had a low IQ.
• A highly motivated Maltese teacher used a practical example to help them learn.
• He compared the Maltese language to a cocktail.
– The different drinks symbolized Italian, Arabic and English.

• As a result the children remembered the example more.


2nd Characteristic of an effective teacher
• One should get to know one’s students to cater for them accordingly.
• Scaffolding activities accordingly, ensures maximum learning.

“The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water moulds itself to the pitcher” – Chinese Proverb


3rd Characteristic of an effective teacher
• Creates a non-threatening and welcoming environment.

Environment – Observation 1
• A Maths lesson in a Boys’ Area Secondary School
– The teacher greeted the students by the words ‘hurry up because you are wasting precious time’.
– The students were not very friendly towards her and imitated her.
– Whilst going out for recreation these students were heard echoing the teacher’s words to their peers who dawdled on their way out.

Theory of Observational Learning
• The students’ picked up the teacher’s habit and used it to their advantage.
• This can be applied to Albert Bandura’s theory of observational learning.

Theory of Observational Learning
• Bandura established 4 steps
– Attention – characteristics instilled within a person that will affect the way in which he is influenced.
– Retention – the ability to remember what one sees and transforms it into visualizations or verbal expressions.
– Reproduction – the ability to transform what one has retained into definite behaviour.
– Motivation – one has to be given a reason or incentive to reproduce what he has observed and retained.


Good Organisation
4th Characteristic of being an effective teacher
• Having good organisational skills.
• In order to keep the students focused, the explanation should be sequential to avoid confusion.
• The teacher should always follow a lesson plan.

Bloom’s Taxonomy for Learning Domain
• The last two domains
– Synthesis
– Evaluation

Focus on the importance of having a lesson plan as a guidance for the lesson.

Importance of a Lesson Plan
• A lesson plan is important
– to make the lesson sequential.
– to ensure the objectives devised were reached.
– to assess whether students understood or not.

Conducting a Lesson
• The teacher starts off the lesson by correcting the home work, – the students participate and say their answers.
• Introduces the topic that will be tackled.
• The teacher may write down some notes on the whiteboard.
• Class work is given so as to make sure that the students understood the topic.

Organisation – Observation 1
• A particular math’s teacher at a girl’s school, applied very good organisational skills in her lesson.
• She stated the aims of the lesson at the beginning of the lesson in a very clear way.
• She managed to do all the things she had planned.
• On repeated observations, it was noted that she always had a well-planned lesson.
• Students were always motivated to learn.

Organisation – Observation 2
• Another class that was observed in the same school was a Maltese literacy class.
– It aids students who find it difficult when it comes to reading and writing.

• She involved the students by asking them to continue reading from where she stopped and corrected them
wherever they made a mistake.
• At the end, she gave them some pages to read at home.

Classroom Layout 1
• In the previous incidents mentioned, the desks were neatly placed and organised in twos.
– Students can help each other with any difficulties they might have.

• The teacher’s desk was facing the student’s desks.
• On some occasions, the teacher may still need to separate desks to avoid misbehaviour and interruptions before starting the lesson.

Classroom Environment
• When students are already inside the classroom, the teacher should make his / her presence felt.
• On the contrary, when students change class, the teacher can alter the classroom layout to suit his/her approach to teaching.

• When the teacher is disorganized he/she will not be able to deliver a well-balanced lesson.
– This was noticed in an observation where the class only managed to read a small paragraph from a textbook throughout two whole double lessons.
– The rest was random, out of point discussions.

• There was poor classroom management together with a lack of discipline.

Observation – Disorganisation
• During a Home-Economics practical session a disorganised teacher was observed.
• The teacher did not guide and assess the students.
• They ended up asking each other what to do next and did not learn any skills.


• Constant motivation is compared to behaviourism – researched by B.F. Skinner.
• He called his research ‘The Operant Conditioning Theory’.
• Theory states that a particular behaviour can be increased by positive / negative reinforcements (praise / punishments).


Observation – Ineffective Teacher
• Observation – A particular teacher, instead of correcting the students in a gentle manner and explaining what was wrong, the teacher sent the students out of class together with their desk and chair.
• It was observed that most of the teachers reprimanded the students whenever they got something wrong.
• Students are demoralized and in consequence show no interest in learning.

Albert Bandura
• Throughout our observations, one thing was particularly noticed.
• When a teacher scolds students, their actions turn out to be counterproductive as that same action is repeated by the students.
• This is backed up by the Social Cognitive Theory researched by Albert Bandura.
• The Bobo-Doll experiment – Children imitated what was seen both verbally and physically.

Influential Teachers
• A teacher’s behaviour contributes to classroom management .

Henry Adams once stated: “A teacher affects eternity; one can never tell were the influence stops.”

Good Discipline

Observation – Effective Teacher
5th characteristic of being an effective teacher
• Keeps the same discipline methods with all students regardless of their gender, race, ability or religion.
• Positive reinforcement: praises students and corrects their mistakes.
• Greets the students.
• Prepares the things needed for the lesson beforehand and waits for the students to settle down.
• Goes around the students to check whether everyone is paying attention.
• Removes distracting materials such as any irrelevant writing on the board will be rubbed off.

Communication of Ideas
6th Characteristic of being an effective teacher
• Ability to communicate ideas effectively.
• This is done through the use of a variety of resources.
• This is explained in Benjamin Bloom’s book – Taxonomy of Learning Domains.


• A teacher should always motivate students in a fun way – that is what keeps them going; Albert Einstein once said:
“It is the supreme art of a teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

• During a science lesson, one of us observed one such characteristic,
• The science teacher used a variety of interesting resources such as:
– PowerPoint presentations
– Worksheets
– Information handouts
– Textbooks

• These resources enabled students to be enthusiastic and motivated.

Importance of Resources
Something commonly observed:
• Very few teachers made use of resources,
• Most of them used the traditional resources; white board and textbooks,
• Students ended up bored and disinterested throughout the lesson.

Edgar Dale
• In the 1960’s he put forward the theory:
• Students retain more information by what they “do” as opposed to what they “hear”, “see” or “observe”.
• He devised the ‘Cone of Experience.’
• “Learning by doing” is nowadays known as “experiential learning”.

Cone of Experience

Ineffective Resource 1
• By time, textbooks become outdated. This means that more money has to be forked out by the school and parents to update them.
• Textbooks should be used as a reference for studying, revising or even further notes.

Ineffective Resource 2
• Teachers still rely on such a sole type of pedagogy application,
• Disadvantage: The teacher may not write clear and big enough for the students to read,
• There can be cases of impairment; eyesight problems.

Positive Environment
7th Characteristic of being an effective teacher
• The ability to create a positive classroom environment.
• A positive classroom environment is boosted further by using:
– the appropriate type of humour
– at the appropriate time.

• Teachers should foster the praxis of using humour as it is an effective technique.
– This removes any tension in the relationship between the teacher and the student.
– This leads to a better performance in the students’ academic life.

Negative Attitude
• Students will learn less if the teacher uses a negative attitude towards them.
• This includes factors such as sarcasm.

• Sometimes teachers confuse good humor with sarcasm.
– The use of sarcasm may harm the teacherstudent relationship since what some think as funny others may find to be offensive.
– Sarcasm is humiliating for students.

What makes a bad teacher?

• A teacher should be a life-long learner which is committed to the teaching profession striving to ‘reach and teach’ students. Plato claimed that “ The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life”.

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