In an era where public schools are seen as the enemy, finding good teachers must be a cornerstone of reform efforts. Unfortunately, teacher performance evaluations often lack clarity due to the long-term nature of teaching. The fruits of a good education are enjoyed after twelve or more years of schooling, thus defining a good teacher from an institutional perspective is difficult. Consequently, our society must find better ways of identifying quality teachers who can reform schools and students.
Clearly, a committed teacher is someone who spends extra time after school with students or works to address the individual needs of students. Although a good teacher is a committed professional, good teachers are able to do more than just work with students after school. Such a professional is able to learn with the students, so he or she can become a better teacher. After all, a lack of effort on behalf of continuous progress translates into an uncommitted teacher.
Meanwhile, students have their own special needs. For those who have the misfortunate of encountering a teacher with an outdated school of thought, which dictates one-size-fits-all, a good teacher is someone who diligently works to address the learning needs of the individual student. While there are special needs students, who cannot function in a normal class room, all learners have their own unique needs. The job of a teacher is to help students in their educational pursuits versus dictating what must be learned.
Furthermore, a good teacher is a total educator. An individual is not the only teacher of a student for the reason that students must have a diverse education while each and every teacher has his or her unique experiences to add to the teaching community. Accordingly, a good teacher works to improve the teaching community by working with other teachers to improve everybody’s performance. At the same time, good teachers help to strengthen the school community by turning the educational experience into a life experience for students, parents, and teachers.
A good teacher is hard to identify from an institutional perspective; however, good teachers are not necessarily hard to find. The problem is putting these teachers in the position to change their entire school environment and giving them the resources to accomplish these goals. Good teachers are the one who make a positive, life-altering impact on their students. These teachers are obvious in the eyes of students and they should be rewarded by empowering them as leaders in their profession.