What Makes A Good Teacher?

Two weeks ago, when I found out about my class schedule for the summer, I was not really very excited with the idea of having to sit down for 4 straight hours in the morning, for 3 weeks, and then listen and learn about Philosophy. My feelings then were more on “let’s get this over with and move on to the next level”.

Since I have taken this subject before but got an incomplete mark for failing to comply with the requirements on time, I was advised to ask my professor if he will allow me to simply get all the reading materials and submit the requirements on time and not attend the classes anymore. The last time I enrolled the subject, he was also my professor. That was the plan.

Then Monday came, my first day of class. Prior to entering the classroom that morning, I was preoccupied and rehearsing in my mind what I was going to tell my professor. As I entered the classroom and as I introduced myself to my obviously younger classmates, I found out that I was the only one who was not into “formal teaching”; that is, not employed as a teacher in any academic institution. Nonetheless I told my lovely classmates that I used to teach in college, and I did for more than six years. I also told them that although I am no longer teaching in an academic institution, what I do as a trainer and workshop facilitator is in many ways similar to what a teacher does in a traditional classroom.  But I have to be honest that I felt like a butterfly in a fishbowl, and I asked myself if I did the right thing … continuing with my PhD. A lot of people have urged me to shift and get a doctoral degree in corporate management or doctoral degree in management so I’d be “vertical”.

Looking back now, I am glad that I decided to stay and attend the class. Today, more than ever, I am very sure that I did the right thing … pursuing what I love and what I know to be the best for me. Had I not stayed and attended my classes, I will never learn about these 3 striking lessons from our first reading assignment on Teachers’ Beliefs about Cooperative Learning and Pedagogy:

1.      Teachers’ beliefs may have the greatest impact on what teachers do in the classroom …

 2.      Education is not just about earning units; it’s all about life!

 3.      The harm you do as a teacher can be far reaching, and this has everything to do with your beliefs …

I learned many things in class. Top of my mind is this: that a teacher must have an ‘open mind’ for him or her to be able to develop and progress as a person and as a professional, not just for his sake but for the sake of those who will be under his charge, his students.

A teacher must be “reinventable”; someone who is willing to listen, to learn, and change for the better. In order to do this, a teacher must be willing to evaluate his belief system and see where he stands in a lot of things.

In class, the discussion was in the context of cooperative learning. I came to understand that cooperative learning is not possible if teachers are not willing to learn from other teachers. When he/she understands where he stands, he will also be in a better position to work well with others, and in this case, his co-teachers, the school administrators, and his students. A teacher’s belief system is very crucial because it can help him/her or it can get in the way. The belief system can make a teacher bitter or better, helpful or harmful. It will also determine how he will respond to change in general.

I will always be grateful to opportunities for learning. For my professor in Philosophical and Ethical Foundation of Education, thank you Sir! Thank you for giving me a very rich summer full of laughter and learning! May you continue to inspire teachers to strive harder to become better.




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