What Makes a Teacher GREAT?3 min read

Take a second and think about the greatest teacher you ever had.

Okay, I bet that didn’t take long. Great teachers are memorable.

What made that person great?

Was it that she was the master of her subject area and knew everything there is to know about polynomials or photosynthesis?

Or was it the fact that she could put these ideas and concepts into a language that you could understand?

Was it because he had the answers to all of your questions?

Or was it because he always asked you harder questions in return, and made you think?

Was she great because she let you do whatever you wanted?

Or did she teach you how to focus, and make you stay on task, and tell you to put your phone away (or your CB radio).

Was he great because he didn’t call your mom when you accidentally dropped the F-bomb in class?

Or because he did call her when you wrote that poem that made everyone in class tear up, or when you stood up to a bully for the quiet kid in class?

Did she know exactly what to say whenever you had a problem?

Or did she rarely say anything and just listened to your grief?

Was he a great teacher because his class was easy?

Or did he teach you how to work your ass off?

Was she perfect?

Or was it her imperfections that made her great?

OR, was it the fact that she let you know about her flaws and imperfections?

Was he an easy grader?

Or did he make you work, and grind, and sweat for that A?

Did she teach you to love writing?

Or numbers, or stories from history, or the intricacies of plant life?

Did he or she teach you how to love learning?

And that you have the potential for greatness?

And that kindness and courage matter more than money and success?

And that it’s okay to make a fool of yourself sometimes?

And that your time is valuable?

And did they keep granola bars in their desk for days where you forgot to eat breakfast

Or when your parents couldn’t afford to buy it?

Did you know without a shadow of a doubt that you were more than a name on a roster, or number on a test, or even student in a seat to them?

They let you know that you are a person, one who is deeply loved,

and because of that, you remember them as great?

Whatever it was, maybe take a moment to let them know how great they really were to you. And then think about how you can be that kind of ‘great’ for someone else.

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Trevor Muir

I believe every student has the potential for greatness. And I believe every educator can be equipped to unlock that potential.