The question is as old as notebooks, and number two pencils. How do I tell a good teacher from a bad one? To simplify the task and help you identify the A+ teacher, consider the following list of characteristics. This list is based upon years of observing the techniques of effective teachers, and listening to parents and kids.
A teacher’s violation of one of these points doesn’t necessarily condemn him/her to the Old Teachers’ Home, but if several are absent, your child may have a difficult and unrewarding school year.
Good teachers are organized. Their students know what is expected and when reports and tests are scheduled. If your child is confused about assignments and projects, the teacher may not be sufficiently prepared.
Good teachers give students a sense that the material is important. Enthusiasm is contagious, and a teacher who knows the subject thoroughly and can relate the content to a student’s daily life or goals is a good motivator.
Good teachers read and return assignments. A child’s time is precious. If an assignment is worth doing, it’s worth reading. Make a point to check your child’s homework each day and ask to see the work when it’s returned.
Good teachers will return your phone calls, emails, and answer your notes.
Good teachers control their classrooms and their tempers. Malicious teasing, threats, and put-downs are not tolerated in a good teacher’s classroom. Creating a positive learning environment is a priority.
Good teachers make their classrooms inviting and attractive. Look around the room and think like a kid. What gets your attention, especially if you have a tendency to daydream? (All kids will, you know.) Are there interesting posters, maps, charts, or diagrams? Do you see collections of books and decorated bulletin boards? Are samples of students’ work displayed?
Does your child’s teacher pass the test? If so, then relax because your youngster will thrive in the care of a competent, capable educator.
But what is an appropriate action if you suspect the teacher doesn’t make the grade? Kids are powerless to correct bad classroom procedures, so if there is to be any improvement, parents will have to assume the responsibility.
First, get the facts by contacting the teacher and expressing your concerns. Be specific and ask for answers to your questions. Don’t be afraid to suggest changes that might improve your child’s success, such as a seating change closer to the front of the room or assigning extra practice work to be completed at home.
When discussing a teacher’s methods with other parents and kids, always get a variety of views. Successful students have different perspectives than unsuccessful ones.
If conditions do not improve in the classroom, you may need to contact the teacher’s immediate supervisor. In most schools, that person will be the assistant principal. Usually he/she can view the situation from three sides-parent’s, child’s, and teacher’s.
When meeting with the assistant principal, it’s important to be completely honest about your child’s academic or behavioral difficulties. For example, an unmotivated child who has always gotten by with minimal effort will experience adjustment shock when an exacting teacher expects a higher quality of work.
Before you insist upon changing teachers, ask yourself, “Do I sincerely believe my child will be more successful with another teacher, or will a change create more problems?”
Today’s schools reflect society’s problems–violence, drugs, poverty, negligent parents–but a good teacher offers a brief respite, where new skills and concepts are learned, projects planned and created, stories crafted, and lifetime friendships established.