Think back to your favorite classes of your academic career. Most of them probably consisted of an interesting curriculum, engaging conversation and — most importantly — a great teacher. Now the question is what made that particular teacher great? We all know a great teacher is essential for success in the classroom, but what exactly do great teachers possess that mediocre ones do not?
The great ones differ in a variety of ways.
We, as college students, race to registration in order to evaluate available teachers for our upcoming classes. The earlier we register, the better the chance we will have in picking the teachers that will ensure our success in a particular class. RateMyProfessor.com has been bookmarked in web browsers all across campus, and for good reason. This essential assessment tool provides previous students’ descriptions of professors currently teaching at Illinois State, and as stated above, choosing the right professor is necessary to succeed.
So, what attributes do students want their professors to have? What do they look for in a professor?
Looking back on my personal experiences in school, my favorite classes were always my English classes. In high school, the only thing I looked forward to was English class because it had genuine, thought-provoking discussion rather than typical banter about variables and exponents. My English teachers asked questions like “how” and “why,” forcing us to fully understand the concept being discussed. Also, every English teacher I had in high school possessed the attributes necessary to be an outstanding educator.
In my opinion, every great teacher needs to be personable, engaging, passionate and organized, and I am not the only one who feels this way.
Michael McMahan, a junior construction management major here at ISU, appreciates the same characteristics of a teacher as I do. When asked about what he looks for in a teacher, he replied, “I look for teachers who are easy to approach. Being personable is incredibly important in my opinion, because every student needs to be able to ask questions and students do not want to ask an unpleasant teacher questions.” He further mentioned his appreciation of passionate and engaging mannerisms of certain teachers, which helps him stay alert in class.
When a teacher has passion about what he/she is teaching, the students immediately pick up on it. This passion permeates the occupants of the classroom, further motivating the students to learn whatever subject is being discussed. In essence, when the teacher shows passion for whatever is being discussed, the students will become passionate about learning the material. Also, organizational skills are an obvious necessity for teachers. I believe disorganization represents incompetence, and the worst nightmare of a student is having an incompetent teacher.
Students like myself are incredibly thankful of teachers who exemplify these characteristics. We leave the classroom with an understanding of a topic much greater than we anticipated, and we actually enjoy going to class because of it. Teaching is a hard art to master, but those who have mastered it are greatly appreciated.
Chris Chipman is a junior english major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding his column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.