What makes a teacher great?

What makes a teacher great? That’s what’s asking on today’s prompt.

I’ve had a lot of teachers and I mean a lot because unlike the university I’m attending now, my previous university had a lot of professors. During my five years at the university, I’ve never once had the same professor twice even when I was repeating a course. I guess either the university hires a lot of professors or I was just lucky not to have the same instructor twice.

At my current university, there aren’t a lot of instructors in the program. So far this semester, I have two instructors I had courses with last semester. I think they are both very great teachers. Better than the ones I had at my previous university? Hell yeah! So what if they are lacking a PhD? It doesn’t matter to me, as long as they know their stuff, that’s fine by me.

The most horrible instructor I’ve ever had was in one of my undergraduate courses two years ago. He was very unforgiving and tough, just two of the most important elements to make a horrible instructor.

In January of 2013, we had an ice storm here. It’s a rare weather phenomenon where the rain freezes the moment it hits the ground. Everywhere that day, the ground was shiny and slick was like an ice-skating rink, even my special shoes couldn’t help me stay on my feet. I slipped like six-times that day, just to get to bus stop. I was actually surprised I didn’t break anything internally.

I was in pain that night and there was a quiz in one of my classes the next day. I emailed the instructor early and told him…

I fell and hurt myself today. I don’t think I can come to class tomorrow. Is it okay if I make up the quiz some other time?

Nope, that was his answer. I’d be missing the first quiz of the semester and I couldn’t make it up. I went to talk to him again face-to-face and this time, it was like he didn’t understand my English at all. It was unbelievable.

About a week later, when he posted the grades onto the site, I saw I got a big fat zero on the quiz and his quizzes made up of 40% of the grade. In the end, because of that missing quiz, I didn’t pass the grade. I got a D+ instead of a C-, which was what I needed to pass the course. When I retook the class in my last semester of the undergraduate program, I discovered that he failed more than half of the class. Don’t you think that’s a horrible teacher?

So what makes a teacher great?

  • A great teacher cares. Last Tuesday, there was a snow storm. I was late after nearly two hours of driving but I still made it to class. At the end of the class, the teacher told us. “If there’s a snow storm and you can’t come to class, please just tell me. I don’t want you guys to have any trouble trying to get to class.” She even posted all her notes online for those people that couldn’t make it that day.
  • A great teacher is forgiving and sympathetic. If a clumsy student (like me) falls and hurts themselves and cannot come to class, a forgiving teacher would offer them sympathy and let them make up whatever work they missed another time.
  • Last but not least, a great teacher is understanding. They understand the student’s need to pass the class and will help them in whatever way they can to help that student.

Couldn’t had said it better myself

21 thoughts on “What makes a teacher great?

  1. It’s not the teacher’s job to help you pass a class. It’s a teacher’s job to help you master the material so you can use it in your life. You’re lucky you had to retake the class. I’m guessing you got a higher grade than a C-. the second time. A C- plays hell with a GPA. Oh well… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, I got a B+ the second time but that teacher had never taught the class again, as far as I know. No one could understand his lectures and I know several brave people complained. I didn’t think it was fair he fail half of the class though just because he decided to not follow the course curriculum (he taught his own material).


      • Students often think that teachers fail students… I posted 10 weekly quizzes on Blackboard that were worth almost NO points (10 points out of 1500). A student could fail all of them and still get an A in the class. They were chapter reviews, homework, but they were difficult unless a student really READ the chapter. I had students complain that they failed quizzes and that I was a bad teacher because I didn’t “help” them (teach to the quiz in class). Often these students didn’t even have a book. There are bad teachers, but there are also bad students. I don’t think you are one, but they do exist.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Up to this point the girls have had amazing teachers but we hear horror stories. An inspiring teacher is worth their weight in gold because their teaching transcends their time together & follows the student for a lifetime.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I knew teachers like you describe, which in reality was a way of masking their own inability to teach.
    I would add one to your list, from my own experience as a teacher: A good teacher encourages his students to take ownership of his /her work.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Over Due | litadoolan

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