One of the questions that we as aspiring teachers are constantly asked is, “What makes a good teacher?”
I have had a grand total of six teaching classes if you count my current one (and by the amount of reading I’ve done, I’m going to count this one) and we have been asked some form of it along the way.
Here’s what we’ve been able to determine: No one really knows. I mean, students kind of know, but not in an official, measurable capacity. (Sorry, No Child Left Behind.) But you see, that is kind of the point.
Up until now, I have had office jobs, desk jobs. I’ve been an editor, a government contractor, purchaser, administrative assistant, and manager. Each one had a measure of what it took to get promoted in that job. I had benchmarks I had to write down, then achieve. This was usually rewarded with more work and more benchmarks, so I often didn’t know if it was a good thing to be considered “good” at my job. (Nor do I believe I was “good” at any of my jobs. I just sort of showed up and didn’t annoy the wrong person.)
Most jobs are like this. They have some kind of benchmark. Retail? Make that quota. Writer? People buy your books. Actor? People know you. Superman? Save Lois Lane.
But what makes a “good” teacher? I don’t know. And that’s sort of the test, isn’t it? To keep doing what we can to make sure we’re “good teachers.” I’m realistic enough to understand that this isn’t “Hr. Holland’s Opus”. I’m no Richard Dreyfuss. (Thank God. I hate boats.) But I think the quest of trying to be a good teacher is what makes a good teacher. Take risks. Do something that is going to fail. Failure’s great, because failing at least means you tried.
I just don’t have an answer to this one. I just know that I’ve reached a different kind of benchmark, one that tells me that I’m done with office jobs, and I’m ready to start attempting to be a teacher... hopefully a good one.