What is the Ideal Teacher?

by Arlene Birt


First graders have interesting answers to this question:

 What is an ideal teacher?

I had to first explain what ideal means. We discussed ideal as meaning the very best.

So, what makes the very best kind of teacher?

The first answer given was “YOU!” The next two answers were about our administrator, Mr. Good: “Mr. Good is good at singing” and “Mr. Good is good at talking.”  Further responses were “Be good at teaching” and “Try to be good teachers.”  Ideal teachers should be nice, the students said: “Be nice to them” and “When they’re nice to the children.”

These very best teachers are helpful:

  • “Help people when they need help.”
  • “Be helpful in teaching.”
  • “You help us.”
  • “Being helpful.”

These teachers have a variety of skills:

  • “They’re very good at art.”
  • “Be good at doing stuff on the computer.”
  • “When we have Track and Field.”

Perhaps some of the first graders’ thinking is wishful, as the ideal teacher should also “Give us longer recesses” and “Give them extra recess when they’re good!”

I like this final response for the ideal teacher: “When teachers just keep on going strong.”

I want to get input from my students to help me evaluate my teaching and the student learning and to see what I need to work on.  The children do quarterly evaluations of their teacher, and enjoy doing what we call “my report card.”  I go through their responses and tally answers, enjoy the comments, appreciate the encouragement, and consider their ideas.  I check in with those students who have listed concerns or noted areas they feel aren’t as strong.

Certainly, the ideal teacher should be an effective teacher and ought to continue growing as a life-long learner.  I agree that the ideal teacher is nice and helpful, and likely has many types of skills.  We had discussed in class the concept of “keeping on going strong,” so I was pleased with that response because I could tell the students had taken that to heart, and applied it to their teacher.

I had a battery-operated tea light that I could not turn off because of a broken switch.   I took it to school and we talked about how this light just keeps burning and we want to keep going strong, continuing to do our best, and learning and working hard right up to the end of the year.  The children were fascinated with this light and would check on it periodically and report that “It’s still on!”  The light shone for several weeks so we had a constant reminder to keep ourselves shining and working hard!  The ideal teacher draws strength from the Lord and from being mindful in prayer and keeps that light shining. We do need to keep going strong, renewing our motivation and energy, keeping our enthusiasm, and remembering our calling.

Summer is a good time to “charge the battery” and renew the vision for teaching, and brush up on those ideal teacher characteristics.  We probably don’t need to worry much about this first-grade answer, though: “The ideal teacher never wears red.”

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CONTRIBUTOR: Arlene Birt

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