Characteristics of an effective educator

To be an effective teacher you need to like the children you teach. This may sound obvious, but it is still true. When I worked as a substitute teacher in California, I regularly filled in for a high school pre-calculus teacher who really wanted to be a college professor. His classroom reflected his general lack of understanding of how to relate to high school students. The only items on the walls were posters of mathematical concepts he had handwritten on butcher paper. Frequently, the planned activity was a test, and several times it was the same test (I figured this out because I would take the test as well, just for practice). His classroom desk was an absolute disaster area. If I were a student, I would not have liked being there.

As I spent more time at this school, both in his classroom and in others, I got to know many of the students. These students would start to tell me stories about how awkward their interactions were with this teacher. I would cut them off, but in the beginning of these stories you could tell the teacher did not want to be there. On days that I was working in another classroom, he would sometimes pull me aside to ask questions about particular students or to discuss lesson plans for future dates. It was clear he didn’t trust his students and this job was only a means to an ends. This realization made me very sad, as he had some great kids in his classes and he was missing out on the experience of learning with them.

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