In fact, Brinkley lamented, “My mother took no interest in me at all. She was much more interested in her flowers.”
Rather, it was a high school teacher who was able to see the remarkable potential this young man possessed. She encouraged and guided him and without her, Brinkley doubted that his life would have found the direction that it did.
What makes for a great teacher?
When students are asked this question, there is remarkable uniformity in their responses.
Great teachers possess the following three qualities.
1. A great teacher loves to teach. When she walks into the classroom, her face lights up. As eager as a child who takes delight in being in a candy store, she is equally delighted to be in the classroom. Her enthusiasm is contagious. Because she loves to teach, she is more likely to stimulate students’ love for learning.
2. A great teacher loves what he teaches. Out of his love comes an undying excitement about his particular field of study. I still remember my daughter coming home in amazement.
She and a few friends had dropped off materials at the home of her Cleveland High School history teacher. “You won’t believe this, Dad. He was watching The History Channel!” Teaching history all day wasn’t enough to satisfy his passion for history.
3. A great teacher is a person who loves whom she teaches. Caring is the bridge that carries the subject to the student. Students quickly recognize which teachers are willing to go the second or third mile in order to more fully meet the needs of their students. Regardless of what is being taught, consistently students perform at a higher level when they know they are cared for.
When a teacher possesses all three of these qualities — a love to teach, a love of what he teaches, and a love for whom he teaches — his effectiveness in the classroom will be dramatic. In fact, such a teacher will never fully know the impact of his work.
More than simply imparting information and knowledge to his or her students, a great teacher is much more likely to create a lifelong longing in students for information and knowledge that transcends a teaching career.