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Teachers have a profound impact on the lives of our children. With the right skills, teachers can inspire and help children develop their true potential, says Thomas Hagspihl, St Martin’s School Executive Headmaster. They can help change the world. 

So, what makes a good teacher?

Effective and inspiring teachers require a skill set and a character that is unique, one of unbounding patience and commitment to ensuring they influence and apply their skills to shaping and developing a child’s mind.

Classroom skills

Teachers must be disciplined, have classroom management skills and sound observation skills.  They must have a thorough understanding of their children’s cognitive, emotional and social development.

The classroom should be filled with children from differing backgrounds. The teacher should be aware of the different learning capabilities of the students in the classroom.

They are required to be good communicators, able to engage with their students as well as with parents to bridge the gap between the classroom and the home.

A warm environment

A teacher’s classroom should be a welcoming and stimulating environment. It should also be a space that is organised, where there is a place for everything and where everything is in its place. The space should be inviting with evidence of routine and procedures for daily tasks.

Teachers should move around the classroom rather than be anchored behind a desk.  They should not depend on worksheet-type activities. Rather encourage interactive and engaging, meaningful activities.

Use technology in the classroom. But make sure it thoughtfully enhances lessons and learning.

Maintaining the balance

Teachers shouldn’t show frustration. They should handle problems seriously but calmly. The punishment for any misbehaviour should be consistent (and rare).

There should be constant positive reinforcement for children at school.  A positive and enthusiastic teacher is contagious. 

“Everyone remembers that one teacher from school.  The encouragement when the chips were down, the kind word, or the hug when life was just difficult.  In our modern world with guardians working, children often spend more time with their teachers than they do with their parents,” says Hagspihl.

Their role in the development  of their students is huge. “No one will argue about the impact teachers have on children. It’s not so much about continental drift, mitosis, quadratic equations and whether the pronoun comes before the verb or after, it has to do with the hidden curriculum. The development of a child into an adult is multifaceted and complex. Good teachers revel in the challenge of helping young children grow into functional, compassionate and thinking adults.”

Read more about the impact of teachers in our lives

He adds: “If there is one thing that COVID has taught us, it is that education – the real education – doesn’t happen behind a screen.  It happens in a community; on the sports field when you lose a closely contested game. It happens when you need to deal with an irritating member of the class, or when the bully in your grade keeps picking on you.  That is where good teachers are necessary; even indispensable. They support, activate curiosity and believe that each pupil has something special that can be built upon, even if this is difficult to find.  Good teachers change the world – they really do.”