How Well Does the Teacher Teach?

There are a number of things parents need to watch for when deciding what school or class in which to enroll their children.

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The teachers we remember most were probably the most fun. They were caring, empathetic, enthusiastic and conveyed a love for learning. They taught us the most and made the biggest difference in our lives. But they had qualities we probably weren't even aware of. They were experts in their field and conveyed information in creative, memorable ways. Great teachers help students feel like they can learn and succeed. But it's hard to know ahead of time if a teacher has these memorable qualities. Still, there are some things parents should watch for when deciding what school or class in which to enroll their children.

The Basics

A good teacher will have mastery of the subjects they teach, as well as a firm grasp of general subjects like mathematics, science, literature, grammar, writing, spelling, history, geography, art, and even music. He should know that every child is different and will know how to teach his subject to every child. A good teacher will know how to motivate and integrate kids of diverse backgrounds and ideally has an understanding of child psychology and learning theory.

Social Awareness

Qualified teachers should have the ability to identify kids with emotional or psychological problems and have access to resources for helping such children. They should also be able to spot gifted children, or those with learning deficits. Good teachers are able to teach children awareness about the hazards of drugs, smoking, AIDS and sex (when appropriate), as well as being able to communicate with parents about their kids.


It's a good idea to get some information about a teacher's credentials. If possible, find out where your child's teacher studied, what kind of training he has and any advanced qualifications or specializations he might possess. A good teacher, confident in his qualifications, will be glad to share whatever information you might need. Ask for a meeting and have a conversation about what you hope for from your child's school and try to establish some common goals with the teacher.

These are some of the basic skills your teacher's background should have provided:

  • Knowledge of the subjects they teach and methods for presenting information
  • Diagnostic, planning, organizational and management skills and techniques
  • An understanding of the ways in which children learn and the ability to select the best teaching practices for each student
  • The ability to accurately evaluate student learning
  • Knowledge of parental involvement strategies and ways to deal with culturally diverse populations
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