What Makes a Great Teacher? An Article for Educators

It’s my great pleasure to introduce you to our friend Elizabeth Rosenthal. Sarah and I became friends with Elizabeth through our college church at University of Central Florida.   As an experienced art teacher, Elizabeth has a great passion for helping elementary school students to be creative.   She would enjoy connecting with you at elizabeth.rosenthal@ocps.net

Teacher helping student

By: Elizabeth Rosenthal

As educators, we don’t always get the chance to see how our teaching affects our students.  So I decided to take a poll of Mrs. G’s 5th grade class to get their feedback on what makes for a great teacher.  Some of the answers are what you would expect from a 5th grader, but there are a few answers that I found charming and enlightening.

But first, a letter thanking you for all that you do:

Dear Teacher,

It’s been a long time, but I wanted to let you know that I remember what you taught me.

I know you think that I am talking about what I learned in your class, but I learned other stuff too. Like how to be a better person. 

I really thought it was great when you told us how you expected us to behave at the beginning of the year, and even though I broke the rules sometimes, I liked that I had some guidance. 

Your class was hard, but I liked that it was hard because I felt like more was expected from me and I felt challenged.

Thanks also for providing opportunities for me to succeed.  I always knew I liked drawing, but I never thought I could do something with it.  Thanks for telling me I was good and telling me to pick up a pencil everyday and practice.  

Also, I never really saw that I was great until you told me I was.



Special Credit goes to Mrs. G’s class for providing me with insight into what makes a great teacher:

  • A.Q.: I think that a great teacher is thoughtful, caring, sweet and helpful.  She is strict when she needs to be and nice when she needs to be.  She gives out good work and homework and grades it the right way and if we don’t get it she helps us.  She lets us go to the bathroom when we need to, and get a drink of water without raising our hand and lets us do errands and help out because she trusts us. That’s what I love about Mrs. G and what I think is best from a teacher.
  • M.C.: My favorite teacher motivated me.
  • A.M: Ensena, ayuda, y es divertida (She teaches, helps, and is fun).
  • L.C: A good teacher gives you candy and is nice and smart.
  • Y.G.: What makes a great teacher is that they are fun, nice, helpful, and they don’t yell.
  • M.B.: What makes a good teacher is when she does hands on Science with us.
  • G.W.: My favorite teacher was when I was in kindergarten; she let us meet a famous basketball player so she was never on my bad side.
  • L.E.: A great teacher is some one who has respect and treats you equally like others.
  • K. M.: A great teacher is a teacher who can control a class.
  • A.B.: A great teacher is kind to kids and wants them to complete school and have education for themselves.
  • L.R.: What makes a great teacher is that they have to be nice, caring, loving, and fun.  She has to be a little strict with the bad kids and she has to give out treats to the good kids.
  • D.W.: A great teacher would have to be nice and have a sense of humor, and also be a great explainer and teacher.
  • J.P.: What I see in a teacher: My 5th grade teacher inspires me to be a teacher. She is nice, cool, gives you candy, and doesn’t yell that much.
  • A.P.: They have to be smart, and they have to be nice, and not punish the whole class.
  • P.S.: A great teacher is if they help me do some work after school and gives me ways to pass the FCAT.
  • N.S.: A good teacher is when they don’t punish the whole class when it is one or two people and then takes the good students outside.
  • S. C. What makes a great teacher to me? My first grade teacher was the best teacher ever.  Her name was Mrs. Grinner. For my birthday we had cupcakes.  I think that a teacher should give you candy, let you have fun games, center games, and doesn’t yell about everything you do.
  • M.M.: What makes a great teacher? When they give prizes, helps you a lot, and lets you play games.
  • C.S.: I think a great teacher is a person who you can relate to, someone who is interesting and makes learning interesting. A great teacher is someone who’s funny and gives treats. My favorite teacher would also be nice, looks innocent, not mean and weird.  My best teacher is my kindergarten teacher, Ms. Sterling. She is nice, pretty, and interesting. Also a great teacher is someone who punishes a couple of students instead of the whole class and doesn’t give a lot of homework, but just enough to make it fun.

So, what can we learn from these students and what can be said about what makes a great teacher? Perhaps you can think of a teacher right now who has impacted you, motivated you, and encouraged you. A teacher who set you on the track of success and showed the traits of dedication, resilience, and passion every day in their teaching and maybe, just maybe they are the reason why you are a teacher today.

Teachers, never forget or underestimate your ability to inspire those you teach.


Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathycassidy/8522478858/sizes/m/in/photostream/



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