The skills and qualities of a good teacher

There is a Sanskrit verse which, translated into English means:

Salutations to the noble teacher who is like Lord Brahma,(The God of Creation) because he creates the character in students, he is like Lord Vishnu (The God of Sustenance) because he protects the good qualities in his students and like Lord Mahesh [Shiva] (The God of Annihilation) because he destroys the bad habits and bad qualities in his students.

From the above verse, a good teacher must have the talent, acumen and the patience to mould a student’s character. As a teacher, heavy responsibility rests on her shoulder of not only teaching the prescribed subject to the students, but also along the way, instilling the right ethics, morals, values and principles in them. Most of these things can be done without ever even explicitly teaching them. In the management parlance, she can ‘teach by example’. For instance, a teacher who is always organized, dressed appropriately, starts and finishes her lessons on time, handles the errant students with dignity and professionalism, automatically sends the right signals to the students. Students, typically children are capable of observing and absorbing every small detail of the teacher’s activity, hence the above would go a long way in telling a student to be organized, punctual, respectful to others without actually teaching them to do so. A good teacher would always strive to make each student better in his or her own way.

We can also derive from the above verse that the role of creator, though universal for all teachers, is especially crucial in the case of junior grade teachers, when children are most impressionable and can be moulded into future good citizens.

Next comes the role of sustenance, which would mean that a good teacher should nourish and nurture the qualities, talents and potentials shown by her students. Appreciating a good deed, especially in the presence of the whole class, goes a long way in building the confidence and the morale of a student. Students who are typically in their pre-teens are confused about a lot of things happening around them. Here the prime role of a good teacher would be to instil confidence in the students, to explain them what is right and what is not, to shape their thought process, to prepare them to be ready to enter the most turbulent days of their life.

As a good teacher, one needs not only to create and build but sometimes also ‘destroy’ or uproot the bad habits, qualities and thoughts in the minds of the students. Occasional ‘tough love’ not only disciplines the errant, but also sends a very positive message to the rest of the students that such behaviour brings punishment in some form. In other words it is more likely that the act would never be repeated by anyone else in the class. 

To close, it can be added that to become a good teacher, one must also be a good student – observe, study and then decide what is the best answer for each challenge.