I was reflecting this week on what makes a good teacher.
I concluded that a teacher, first and foremost, needs to love being with young people and to love teaching. This love is contagious and pupils pick it up. Secondly, no matter what age group a teacher is with, it is always necessary to believe in the essential goodness in each pupil and to bring that out in them; and then to counter the less useful aspects in the pupil’s nature which would prevent them from realising their own potential and living a life of benefit to others. Thirdly, the teacher needs to have a positive vision of the future and how to bring that about for their pupils. The teacher can then be learning, reflecting, practising, growing and changing to discover more about themselves, so that throughout their career they do not become ‘stale’ in teaching.
I was moved a couple of weeks ago when I received a package in the post; inside I found a copy of a proof copy of a novel for young people , ‘The Highland Falcon Thief’ by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman. The second name stirred something in my memory which was soon answered by the letter; I had taught a Sam Sedgman some twenty-years ago! Sams’ letter begins like this:
Dear Mr Brazier,
This is a terrifying way to start a letter. But I hope you remember me. Twenty years ago you taught me English at Crosfields School, and persuaded me I was quite good at it. You let me write stories and didn’t tell me they were awful. You turned reading exercises into treasure hunts and games. You let us have fun – and I’ve found reading, and writing, and books, a lot of fun ever since. I am thrilled to say that, thanks in no small part to your tireless cajoling and encouragement, I am about to become a published author. I wanted you to have an advance copy, because it probably wouldn’t exist if you hadn’t helped me to start thinking of myself as a writer. Thank you for being such a wonderful teacher. You changed my life.
Teacher’s really can make a difference!