To fulfill curiosity as to why some people seem to be born teachers, it necessitates taking into consideration the characteristic traits of great teachers; teachers of the past such as Socrates, Jesus or educators that each individual has had that made a difference in his or her life. These are the traits that not only set them apart, but which also influenced their students to become better people.
Character traits of great teachers:
1-Love of teaching
Being able to teach requires not only knowledge of a subject but also love and enthusiasm. Love is manifested through patience and understanding while enthusiasm is evident in the way the subject is approached and presented.
2- Love of children
There cannot be a person who can get the message across to an audience he/she despises. Love of teaching goes hand in hand with love of children. An adult that is fearful of children will not be up to par no matter how well trained he/she is. Those born with the talent to teach are also born with the love of children.
This is again a part of such particular teachers’ innate need. Memorable teachers never pretend to know all nor are they stuck using outdated methods. It is particularly necessary today to look ahead by training and using new technologies. The born teacher will not be afraid to learn something new, he/she will see it as a must; always putting students’ best interest first.
4-Teach in a fun way
Apart from using updated methods, learning should not be a chore. And while everyone has those days where ‘fun’ is hidden behind dark clouds, in general, the born teacher has a way to make the students want to come to class. For this writer, Ron Clark (author of The Essential 55 and an award winning teacher) is exemplary of this.
Teachers of this category cannot assess their students without first assessing themselves. They first and foremost question their own effectiveness before evaluating their students’ progress. They wonder if the message got across or how the lesson could have been done more efficiently or why the boy in the back had his eyes elsewhere when he/she was presenting the task at hand.
6-Trial and Error
Born teachers are not afraid to try and fail. They realize that to err is human. However, they cannot forgive complacency when there are students who lag behind. Therefore, these teachers make the effort to risk error through trying different approaches, introducing new subjects of interest and getting everyone involved-especially the ones who refuse to.
7-They teach how to think
A prime example of this is the ancient scholar Socrates who taught his followers how to think. He did not claim to be a teacher. “All I know is that I know nothing,” is what he often repeated in his lifetime. The reason being that Socrates believed people are constantly learning by observing their surroundings. This is what he tried to convey by asking questions instead of spoon feeding his knowledge or thoughts to his students.
And in the words of Jerome Bruner (psychologist and author of The Process of Education):
“To instruct someone… is not a matter of getting him to commit results to mind. Rather, it is to teach him to participate in the process that makes possible the establishment of knowledge. We teach a subject not to produce little living libraries on that subject, but rather to get a student to think mathematically for himself, to consider matters as an historian does, to take part in the process of knowledge-getting. Knowing is a process not a product.” (1966: 72)
8-A born teacher is concerned
The individual born to be a teacher has compassion for humanity and values that education is key to a well adjusted society, and that it begins in his/her classroom. These teachers know that genuine concern for the well being of their students is crucial not only to their learning but to their lives. They know all too well that education goes far beyond academic knowledge. These are the teachers who demonstrate this in everything they do, in their tone of voice and even in their body language.
These are all attributes of the educators who inspire and instill hope in others. And it is this especially, which is not learnt; rather it composes the born teacher.