What makes a good teacher?

By Jongyeop Jeong, 12th Grade

Throughout my school years, I have encountered various types of teachers, each with their own unique teaching styles and personalities, and I have developed my own criteria for classifying teachers as good or bad. For me, good teachers are those who possess a deep understanding of their subjects, are able to control their classrooms effectively, and are punctual and responsible in their grading and feedback. On the other hand, bad teachers are those who lack sufficient knowledge, struggle with controlling noise in the classroom, and are often lazy when it comes to meeting deadlines.

As a person who places significant importance on the material being taught and who often bombards teachers with questions, I consider good teachers to be those who have a thorough understanding of what they’re teaching. Teachers who are knowledgeable about their subjects exude a different aura. It usually doesn’t take me long to realize when a teacher knows what they’re doing. By “know what they’re doing,” I mean that they don’t just follow the school curriculum, as many teachers do. Instead, they go beyond what is expected of them and try to share their knowledge to the fullest. This makes their classes incredibly flexible, and they can respond to any kind of doubts that arise. Some shared characteristics among good teachers are that they seldom leave students with doubts, unless the students themselves are unwilling to learn, and they don’t rely solely on online sources or Sal Khan’s teaching videos. Since they know what they’re teaching, they’re able to teach effectively. This sounds obvious, but alas, these teachers are indeed rare in academic environments.

However, there are times when teachers are too much of an expert in their subjects, resembling college professors, which can be a little annoying and hard to follow. I personally classify them as good teachers, but most of the time, other students dislike them. Personally, I can deal with teachers who might not be the friendliest but are good at teaching. 

Another aspect of a good teacher is the ability to control students. They must establish themselves as the rulers of the classroom and possess a certain level of charisma. I haven’t seen teachers who last long if they’re intelligent but are unable to keep their students silent—they become tired of the students and eventually, quit their job. That way, it’s easy for teachers to identify which students are focused and which ones are not, and to quickly answer individual questions. 

However, there is one fact that is often overlooked, which is that students know with whom they must remain silent and with whom they do not. If teachers are too nice to their kids, then these kids will think that the teacher is easy. Being too nice or harsh both have a negative impact on teaching. So, listen up teachers! If you think your students are too loud, before you judge them, reflect on whether you are too tolerant. The best teachers are those who strike a perfect balance between teaching and control. 

The last characteristic of a good teacher is punctuality and responsibility. A good teacher plans their classes well, has rigorous grading standards, and is punctual in giving grades and providing meticulous feedback on assignments. There are times when a teacher is very good in the classroom, but terrible outside of school. For instance, as students, we often doubt whether some teachers even bother to check our assignments. We compare our work with that of other students, and sometimes we wonder, “do we really deserve the same grades?” This may not be true, but I believe that some teachers don’t even check our work. Even worse, some teachers base their grades solely on favoritism. Regarding punctuality, while it’s not necessarily a sign of a bad teacher, giving late grades causes significant stress for students. By late grades, I mean having incomplete grades even after the evaluation is finished, and those extreme cases. Some teachers have the propensity to wait until the last minute to input grades, which can be frustrating for us as students, leaving us with less time to discuss and negotiate our grades. Negotiating involves seeking clarification on the exact areas where we made mistakes and understanding why we received a particular grade. Fortunately, good teachers are typically open to these types of discussions, as they thoroughly review each assignment and provide feedback to all students.

Then what makes a bad teacher? Well, it’s basically the opposite of what makes a good teacher. Bad teachers lack sufficient knowledge to teach and often rely on external sources instead of their own expertise. They struggle with controlling noise in the classroom and lack charisma. They also have poor standards when it comes to grading students and are often lazy when it comes to meeting deadlines.

Of course, it’s important to note that these are the standards I’ve experienced at CBNH, the school I’ve attended from pre-school to 12th grade. They may not apply to other institutions, and I don’t claim to have a broad enough perspective to say that these factors apply to all teachers. I’m aware that this paper involves some generalization, but I hope you found it an enjoyable read nonetheless!


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