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what makes a good teacher?

Original post made by Sandy on Mar 3, 2009

I'm curious to find out what readers here consider the characteristics of good teachers.

How would you tell the difference between a good teacher and a bad one?

What do outstanding teachers do that makes them stand out?

Do you have any examples of teachers from your time in school who had a positive impact on you and others?

Comments (16)

Posted by me, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 3, 2009 at 11:14 pm

For starter, a good teacher would not show favoritism in the classroom. All too frequent I see teachers treating their pet students better than others in the class. Having volunteered in many classrooms raised my awareness to these behaviors and they're very common, especially with the younger teachers.


Posted by Big mike, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Mar 3, 2009 at 11:21 pm

(Comment deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)


Posted by Small Mike, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2009 at 1:09 am

Big Mike, Those are all the ones getting pink slips - lay off notices. Darn!


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 4, 2009 at 6:54 am

Sandy is a registered user.

The teachers whose performance has most impressed me are those who are able to meet each student at their current level and then challenge them to take the next steps upward on their learning journey.

Outstanding teachers connect with their students outside the classroom, and treat all students as fascinating young people. They appreciate each student's uniquenesses.

In the classroom good teachers focus on why and how students are learning or not learning. They know how to adjust their teaching to address misconceptions students have about what they are learning.

Good teachers use proven methods, and continue to improve their teaching methods during their career.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Mar 4, 2009 at 10:47 am

Good teachers are always tidy and well groomed. They are cool because they brush their teeth. They have clean ears and they don't pick their noses in public.

I don't agree that outstanding teachers connect with their students outside the classroom.
In the UK, I had a teacher from Ireland who often smelled of whiskey. He was very popular and an excellent teacher, he just smelled of alcohol


Posted by Big Mike, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Mar 4, 2009 at 6:53 pm

(Comment deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Good teachers don't shame students. Good teachers know how to correct a child positively, not condemn their characters. Good teachers don't embarrass children in class. We've had many who do these things in Pleasanton public schools. The ones that don't we cherish.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Big Mike, why don't you keep your irrelevant comments to yourself? Are you trying to compete with Cholo?


Posted by A fundraiser for the AVhsalthletic boosters, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Mar 5, 2009 at 8:45 am

I agree with Sandy teachers need to take the time to help the student who is really in need of understanding the subject. They don't have teachers pets. They make every student feel like an individual instead of just a number in their class. They find out more about the student, and what they like to do after school,or on the weekend. Teachers should relate personally to the student. That way the student would relate more to them. They are no longer turned into a robot because the teacher was told to only teach a certain method. A teacher is one that cares,and loves the job and really wants to see the student grow. Even though the classes are very large, this can be done and should be done


Posted by John, a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2009 at 10:13 am

This thread just started but I can predict from experience that what the qualities this community thinks make a good teacher are not the qualities that the system rewards. I have been involved in education in Pleasanton for 30 years, and the good ones are either: powerful enough to fight the system and teach the way they want, or gone in a few short years. I continue to be amazed that this area puts up with the top-down, corporate-sponsored, soviet-modeled education system that is robbing future generations of the opportunity to think creatively. NCLB is the Bush gift that will keep on giving for decades.


Posted by Qwerty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2009 at 6:25 pm


To the above comments, I would like to add the following:

Good teachers have high standards that they maintain no matter what. They do not lower their standards just to get a good rating from students. I've spoken with several teachers (albeit on a community college/university level) who say that many students complain voraciously when they have to bear the consequences of unacceptable or irresponsible behavior (cheating, leaving lab classes early without cleaning up, yelling at the professor after receiving a bad grade on a test, etc.) Some professors let students get away with some of these things because they figure it is less of a hassle and students are more likely to give them a "good" review.

A good teacher will set standards and expect students to rise to those levels because they realize that's the kind of discipline they will need to survive in the working world. In other words, a good teacher will takea long-term view of education and not be swayed by short term consequences. I know people who have received bad reviews just because they expected people to hand in reports on time and clean up after themselves in the lab. Terrible, but true.





Posted by Lynn, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2009 at 6:57 pm

I agree: The teachers whose performance has most impressed me are those who are able to meet each student at their current level and then challenge them to take the next steps upward on their learning journey.

In 7th grade my son's English teacher was outstanding. He thought "she's out to get me". In high school he said he appreciated her. At college he says he wished he had more teachers like her.

She saw where he was, challenged him, made him accountable, and at the same time made the class interesting and not overwhelming. His grade reflected from where he was and where he went vs compared to the rest of the class. Each student in that class was treated the same - from the top of the class to the bottom of the class.

Mrs. Lawless at Harvest Park is exceptional!


Posted by A HS parent, a resident of Amador Estates
on Mar 5, 2009 at 7:05 pm

A teacher is a human being, a parent, a citizen and a great role model for any student. Sometimes they make an impact on any student's career. They educate our students

We should question is our high school administrators, (3 VP's??)what do they do? We, taxpayer pay too much for having a symbol at school. They are never there for the parents with concerns, they never return calls to parents. They never follow up with the parents's concerns. All they do is suspend and expelled kids. Have you ever thought what do they do? Do you know how much they get pay?? its ridiculous!
Those positions/salaries & benefits will make a big difference!


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 6, 2009 at 10:12 am

Sandy is a registered user.

Thank you for the more thoughtful answers to my question. I was concerned, after the first few, that nothing meaningful would come out of this discussion.

I agree that teachers need to be fair with students, without showing favoritism. My daughter's teacher uses a list of students' names on a ring so that she can be sure that she calls on each child equally, without favoring anyone. She encourages all students and points out each time they make progress.

She also broke her arm at school on Monday, tripping over a student's backpack, and she stayed in school Monday, got a cast at night, and came back to teach on Tuesday and Wednesday! Now that's dedication.


Posted by Sue, a resident of Amador Estates
on Mar 7, 2009 at 1:33 am

What we also should be looking at is, "what makes a good parent?"


Posted by Karen, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Mar 9, 2009 at 10:13 am

All the parents in Pleasanton know who the good teachers are and which ones are terrible. The only people who are oblivious to this fact are the teachers who are not very good. For some reason, they think no one notices. Just as teachers can see whaich students put in the best effort, the community sees which teachers put in the best effort.


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