What makes a teacher great?
While this definitely does vary from person to person, I think there are a few baseline traits a teacher must have in order for them to be classified as ‘great’.
The first, and probably the most obvious one, is their love and passion for the subject. It is always painfully clear when a teacher doesn’t believe in what they’re teaching, or has no interest in it. In my view, such a person having the occupation of teaching a subject they don’t like is an insult to that subject. Not only do they create the most dull and negative atmosphere in the classroom, but they will almost always kill any interest/desire to learn about this subject in all of the students. Disliking a topic is fine, absolutely. But to essentially forcefully pass on this disinterest to others through sheer boredom and lack of charisma for it is terrible.
On the contrary, an exceptional teacher can make even the most resistant students want to learn about the subject.
I remember a few years ago I went to a physics grind, I happened to see a rather bored and disinterested student sitting near me. I hadn’t seen him before at this grind and instantly knew he was new and had just signed up.
He had the usual grumpy slouch, hands in pocket, and the ‘I don’t want to be here and am bored’ look on his face. Clearly this extra class wasn’t his idea. However, after a few grinds with one of the most charismatic physics teachers you could ever find, I noticed he had began sitting upright, arms crossed on the desk, and always had a concentrated and focused look on his face as he gave our teacher 100% of his attention. This progression took around 2 classes to set in, and is probably the most profound example I’ve witnessed of how a good teacher can transform students.
Additionally, it should also be important for teachers to be able to explain things in a clear and concise way. While it is exceptionally true that teachers should have a passion for the subject, no amount of energy can really replicate a clear and detailed explanation of the basics. Teachers that can simplify complex concepts and explain them perfectly are a treasure.
Now, what else? Well, I think it comes to no one’s surprise when I say educators should also have a good relation with students. Fun, relaxed, and easily approachable teachers can encourage even the shyest of students to come forward with questions (like me for example), and help to create a fantastic atmosphere in the classroom.