What Makes A Teacher Great?

I’ve been a Tai Chi & Kung Fu teacher for just about 15 years now. I have found back then that teaching is my mission in life. This still rings true in my life. I find that I take on that role whenever it presents itself to me, and I love doing it. I like to think, that I’m an excellent teacher. I have even been told as much.

I’ve spent the last few years continuing to learn these arts. I’ve practiced and practiced until things start seeming clear to me, then I practice some more. I love the act of learning. When my eyes open wide form seeing something clearly, when three seconds ago I could not. Those epiphany moments make it all worth it for me. 

This is true whether I’m having the epiphany, or one of my students. This is the most rewarding part of teaching for me. I’m very grateful I get to see this happen from time to time in my students. Some day’s we struggle to keep on task and learn anything. Other day’s it’s like the doors are thrown wide open, and we’re aloud to know what’s behind them.

I have been thinking lately about what makes a good teacher a great teacher? What does a great teacher value? How can I improve my ability to teach? What direction would I like to head in to do this? Thoughts like these don’t keep me up at night, but they are part and parcel to me being awake.

For any teacher to be great they must value learning immensely. You’ll see this in what they learn, how much time they spend learning, etc. They will be bettering themselves every day.

A great teacher will empathize with their students in order to understand where they are coming from. They will be able to be flexible and to adjust what they are doing/saying. They can change their way of teaching in order to show their students from a different perspective. They will be dedicated to helping their students learn.

Any great teacher will be patient and respectful of their students. They’ll listen and understand where the student is, in order to teach them at that point. 

The great teachers of this world will give their students space and time to make mistakes. To let them suffer and sweat. They will leave the students alone at times, and allow them space to work through things themselves. This allows for each student to eventually depend on themselves, not their teacher. Which is the ultimate goal for each student… To know what’s being taught so thoroughly that it’s ingrained in their bones.

The biggest thing that makes a great teacher, in my opinion, is that the teacher is not in it for themselves, but in it for the student to learn. They realize that this whole thing is not about them, the teacher, but about the student!

Shifu Daniel Cimino

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