What Makes Me a Great Teacher?

Published: 2011-05-06 10:19 |

Category: Reflection | Tags: learning, habits, growth

Ok, so the title is a little self-indulgent, but don’t judge me just yet.

I was thinking back about student teaching earlier this week and how my cooperating teacher made me reflect on everything and how I got so tired of it by the end of student teaching. She was constantly pushing me to reflect in writing on every single lesson I taught, which was significant in and of itself. What made this really special to me was the fact that she always made me take the time to identify strengths before weaknesses.

It seems like a little thing, but how often do we sit down after a lesson and immediately think of the things that went well? If you’re like me, probably not very often. I’m usually thinking about what didn’t go well before the lesson is even over. I don’t usually take the time to think and reflect about what made a lesson or unit succeed. Hence, the title.

I know teachers can be afraid to affirm too much for fear of a “feel-good” class where students don’t need to face reality. That’s not the point of this. The whole idea is to take some time and identify what things you are doing on a daily basis that probably go unnoticed, but really impact your teaching and your drive to become a better professional. These are my top three:

  1. I talk to every student every day.
  2. I take time to reflect and make notes on each unit I teach.
  3. I ask other people for help when I know I’m in a jam or when I could do something better.

It isn’t vain or conceited to say these things make me a great teacher.  I am not saying I’ve reached my pinnacle…these are things I did well this year and things I hope to continue to do well.

I suggest you take some time to think about things you do that make you a great teacher.  I’d love to see some thoughts in the comments.


Heidi Anderson is a teacher at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington, KY and was one of the most influential people in my teacher training. Thank you, Heidi, for your hard work with me and for all the lessons I learned when you handed me your classes.

Comments are always open. You can get in touch by sending me an email at brian@ohheybrian.com