The Student Votes are IN: 6 Traits Teachers MUST Possess!!!

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What do students want AND need in an educator? Thoughts run rapidly through my mind as the end of the year approaches and deep self-reflection continues: Did I make a difference this year? What should I approach completely differently next year? How can I revise my instructional approaches? In what manner can I meet more students where they are at in ANY given moment?

Instead of permitting my uncertainties to mature out of proportion, I decided to consult the individuals who would know first-hand what traits they are seeking in a teacher…my STUDENTS, of course! I simply asked my sixth graders one question: What kind of teacher are you looking for? Many of the answers I received were absolutely astonishing! As teachers already have keen awareness of the attributes we need to make the greatest impact. But, when students present their hopes in their OWN words, it is life-altering.

Moreover, I was incredibly amazed with each child and their extraordinary maturity when offering honest input; I felt that I was conversing with grown adults! This inquiry reiterated the importance of student feedback in my mind. If our goal is to be student-centered, then shouldn’t we spend time to attend to the opinions of our own students?

Below are the top 6 responses I received from my two classes, 55 students combined. Some students decided to elaborate on their answers, while others did not. Thus, I inserted a handful of descriptive responses that I found intriguing.

Top 6 Coveted Teacher Traits

Teacher Traits

Students Believe This Is Important Because….

1. Calm

  • “They need to talk to students calmly like you would if you are talking to a friend.”

2. Enthusiastic

  • “Enthusiasm makes the learning fun. If learning is boring, you are not learning. If what we are doing is interesting, then students will have a blast and want to keep learning more!”

  • “Teachers should have a good sense of humor.”

3. Honesty

  • “Honesty is important because a teacher should not just say you are doing really well if there is something else you could be working on to get better.”

  • “We love when you tell us we did something great.”

4. Helpfulness

  • “If the teacher does not help us, then school gets hard and we keep getting behind.”

  • “A good teacher always comes to you even if you don’t need help to make sure that you are doing well. They are interested in what you have to say.”

  • “Give you one-on-one help to help you understand what you are doing better.”

5. Non-demanding

  • “Non-demanding because great teachers would not demand kids to do things and expect them to be perfect the first time. We are kids and sometimes we need more chances to get better.”

  • “I wish some teachers did not say things to scare you, but they cared about helping you grow.”

  • “Teachers should be strict, but in a way where you are not yelling.”

6. Organized

  • “Organized, they have lesson plans, they know what they are going to do.”

  • “Be proactive because teachers have to deal with several tasks and they can be prepared to teach the class correctly.”

In brief, I have learned so much from the brilliance of my students. Through them, I have been able to see education in different point of view. I hope you never underestimate the power of probing your mind to contemplate the effectiveness of your own instructional practices. Always consider what your students need and let everything else grow from that foundation.

As Walt Disney once said, “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.” Therefore, allow students to coach you. If we grasp their perceptions and change the way we teach, we can most definitely change the WORLD!

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