Making the Grade | In their words … what makes a good teacher?

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We asked Vermont educators and students what makes a good teacher. Here’s what they had to say:

From students at Newbrook Elementary School:

"My teachers help me to learn, and they take care of me," said MJ Prue, a first-grader.
"Great teachers are kind and nice to the students, but they won’t hesitate to be strict when they need to," said Alora Zargo, a sixth-grader.
"Great teachers teach good stuff. … They give you a break sometimes, and they are kind," said Lars Bell, a fourth-grader.
"My teacher teaches me important things," said Kalia Webb, a first-grader.

From students at Bellows Falls Central Elementary School:

“A great teacher is kind, nice, helpful, a good listener and cares about her students,” said Natallye, second grade.
“What makes a great teacher is someone who is helpful and fun and creative,” said Chloe, second grade.
“A great teacher knows kids’ names and lets kids learn alone,” said Jazmyne, second grade.
“A great teacher is agreeable, respectful, responsible, kind and listens to everybody,” said Aiden, second grade.
“My teachers are kind to their students and do not yell at their students. They make sure that their students have fun too,” said Jordyn, second grade.
“You can tell a teacher anything. My teacher cries when she reads books that are sad. My teacher teaches me a lot of things. She make me laugh,” said Aaryanna, third grade.
“Being kind is helping us if we are struggling, letting us go on field trips and encouraging us to do our hardest,” said Zachary, third grade.

From first-grade students in Brattleboro:

“Extra help when I need it.”
“Talks and doesn’t yell.”
“All the hugs you give us.”
“Keeping us safe.”
“They are honest.”
“They are patient.”
“We like laughing with our teachers.”

From administrators:

“A great teacher doesn’t need to be an extrovert who always is ‘rah, rah’ with kids. Rather a great teacher is someone that kids can sense is ‘for real’ and has a genuine caring for their students, believes in them and will hold them accountable because they truly believe in their students’ potential,” said John Gagnon, principal of Guilford Central School.

“A good teacher is one who lives by the habits of heart and mind that we work to instill in our students,” said Jon Sessions, assistant principal at Academy School in Bratleboro.

“When a student finds trust and comfort with their teacher, they feel cared for at school. … [Good teachers] believe all children can learn and who take the time to challenge each student at his/her own level so the student’s academic and social needs are being met, is providing a quality educational experience for all students,” said Keith Lyman, principal at Brattleboro Area Middle School.

“A good teacher is someone who is reflective, responsive and collaborative. The combination sets the stage for continuous growth. If we’re reflective: we are constantly considering our performance and the experiences of our students and evaluating what works and what doesn’t. If we’re responsive: then we are always ready and willing to reshape our practice based on our reflections. If we’re collaborative: then we will learn from our peers reflections and apply it to our own practice, while also being comfortable and willing to share our own learning and experiences,” said Deb Kardane, a teacher at Academy School in Brattleboro.


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