How do top teachers teach?


A teacher should possess the following qualities to be considered a good [top] teacher:

Internal qualities

  • Care: He should care for students. If he doesn't care for students, no matter how good he may be in his subject, the transfer of knowledge will never be efficient.
  • Humble: He should be ready to learn from anyone, including his students.
  • Tolerance: He should be unfazed by criticism and constantly try to improve himself.

Teaching style

Every teacher has their own individual teaching style, but he should follow these basic principles:

  • Encourage questions: Questions improve the understanding of the students, much more than one sided discussions. Moreover, they also give an idea of the level of understanding of students to the teacher.
  • Engage the audience: A teacher should be able to engage the students by creating an interest in the subject. It goes without saying that he should be well prepared for the class to accomplish this.
  • Teach based on audience: A teacher should take time to understand the level of audience and teach accordingly. A teacher may know a lot, but he should teach only as much as the audience is able to understand. E.g., if you teach calculus to 1st graders, they might be impressed that you know a lot, but they won't learn anything.
  • Simplify: He should be able to explain difficult concepts simply.
  • Chalk and board: I am a big proponent of teaching using chalk and board, rather than powerpoint. I have taken so many classes, where teachers have used powerpoint, but I don't remember much from those classes. Powerpoint does not give enough time to the students to assimilate the subject and it also encourages laziness as students think that they will get the slides later, so they don't write any notes in class.
  • Assignments and exams: Suitable assignments and exams must be given to the students that encourage understanding rather than rote memorization. Grading (checking) of the exam should again encourage understanding rather than getting the calculation perfectly correct.

Student interaction

  • Approachable: Students should be able to approach the teacher with questions or concerns. They should not be scared to even say a word to their teacher.
  • Fair: Teacher should be impartial to everyone, including people he knows.
  • Strict: "Spare the rod and spoil the child." Teacher should also be strong to take difficult decisions (when he has to) for the long-term benefit of his students.
  • Honesty: This is one principle in which I firmly believe. No person can know the answer to every question. So, one should be honest and bold enough to say "I don't know."

See question on Quora

I like to blog about various topics ranging from education in IITs to social issues in India and US. All opinions and views presented here are my own and not of my employer.

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