At times in the privacy of my own home, like every parent, I sound off about teachers. Things like ‘what the heck did they tell the kids that for’, or more often ‘why are they charging that much!’ and sometimes ‘why don’t they teach english/maths/science/whatever, the way it should be taught!’
But I keep these moments of frustrated parenthood to myself because I have been on enough camps and retreats to know that I would make a useless teacher and, even if that weren’t the case, I wouldn’t want to be a teacher!
In my role as a parent and as a youth minister I have assisted on quite a number of camps, retreats and class activities across all age groups, most recently with the senior college age group. Over the years I have been impressed at a number of skills that good teachers exhibit.
1.They are well planned and organised.
2. They are incredibly flexible. When things don’t go according to plan they are able to swing with the moment without the whole event falling apart.
3. They maintain excellent control. This may mean a noisy, active environment at times, but they use techniques that ensure they are always in control.
4. They are able to make difficult disciplinary decisions – sometimes several in a lesson. Lots of things go into good discipline – consistency, effective communication, effective listening. As a parent I sometimes find it difficult enough to weigh up information, make a decision and stand behind this decision when challenged, (a typical teenage scenario), yet teachers do this constantly. In the classroom they are also dealing with different social, cultural and family backgrounds, mental and hormonal states, and different friendship and class dynamics (think Year 10 girls).
5. They must not only know their subject and be enthusiastic about it, they must also be able to capture their audience. This is no simple skill. When we recognise the need to wriggle, move, stick our hands in it, play and deconstruct in order to learn, teachers must be able to ‘teach’ across a wide range of learning needs.
6. They live a spirituality which sees Christ in their pupils.
This most important of qualities, combined with other skills, makes the teacher someone who can change lives, communities, and even the society we live in. Christ himself is the role model for this powerful brand of teaching and we are truly blessed to have many such teachers in our schools.
Young Adult and Tertiary chaplain, and parent, Diocese of Palmerston North.