As a student and an educator, I have come to find that no matter what the personality or style of an educator may be, there are several distinct characteristics that make them effective educators. The first characteristic that comes to mind is organization. Organization ensures that the teacher is planned, prepped and ready for each day which allows the students to follow along without confusion and helps families to support students at home. Organization keeps time from being wasted and frustration or misunderstandings to occur. The next characteristic would be providing practical applications for the content being learned. This helps keep the students engaged and provides examples for when or where they will use what they are learning in their own lives. Often practical application bridges relatability and when a student can relate to the teacher or the content, their investment in the class grows from having to be there to wanting to be there and even looking forward to being there. When a teacher can relate to a student, the curriculum comes alive in a new way. Organization, practical application and relatability are nothing without content knowledge and passion. Knowledge and passion go hand-in-hand as a knowledgeable and passionate teacher inspires students to learn, to question, to pursue.
And then, at the end of the day, when the passion, knowledge, relatability, practical application and organization aren’t enough for the students who have too much on their minds to focus; patience, structure and words of encouragement help students as they learn. Patience is a virtue and on a Friday afternoon during 6th period the day of the big game or the big dance, patience is needed to work with the students when excitement gets the better of them or when they are simply having a bad day and nothing seems to be clicking for them. Structure provides the boundaries, expectations and guidelines that all students need and crave (even when they are too proud to admit it). Structure makes them feel safe and cared for, and allows them the freedom to grow and express themselves as it is appropriate. Lastly, every student needs encouragement. Those who excel need the encouragement to not overdo it and take care of themselves while those who struggle need the encouragement to keep going, keep trying and never give up. Encouragement can be spoken, can be written on a test and can be done prayerfully (which in my opinion, is the most important kind of encouragement).