Getting a Good Teacher
by Ron Kurtus
In college and in most high schools, students select the courses and schedule they want. What is also important is to select the best teacher for the course. Many students don't think about selecting a teacher, but the extra research involved can be well worth the effort and result in better grades and fewer headaches.
Questions you may have include:
- How do I find out about teachers?
- What makes a good teacher?
- What should I do?
This lesson will answer those questions.
How to find out about teachers
Learning about the quality of potential teachers takes some work and research.
Some high schools and colleges allow the students to complete evaluation sheets on teacher or instructors. Why this is not done as a regular practice, I don't know. Students or parents are paying for the education, so students should get the best teachers possible.
In schools with teacher evaluations, students can see the evaluation of potential instructors. Evaluations help students make the decision to include certain teachers in students' schedules. Surprisingly, many students do not bother to check these evaluations.
In many colleges where such an instructor evaluation system is not done, student entrepreneurs create and surveys and sell the results off campus. Fraternities and sororities often have such evaluations for their members.
A very common way to find out about potential teachers is done by asking around. An older brother or sister or an acquaintance who has taken the course of interest can give his or her opinion on the teacher. Often information about good and bad teachers is disseminated through "the grapevine" and can be learned by asking around.
A good teacher
What makes a good teacher?
Consider how the teacher grades
The first thing students want to know is how the teacher grades. Certainly everyone wants a teacher who gives good grades.
I was fortunate for 3 of the 4 years in high school to have an English teacher who gave out A's and B's to her students. I didn't select her, but I was just lucky to get her. She was also a good teacher and made the classes enjoyable.
The worst teachers are those who grade on a curve for the class, no matter how well the students do. In other words, if you did work that would have given you a B in a most classes, but you were in a class that consisting of geniuses, you might get a D in that class.
Having a teacher who grades on a curve like that can be discouraging and ruin your grade-point average.
Check on amount of homework given out
Some teachers have a reputation for giving an excess amount of homework. You wonder if such a teacher realizes you have homework for other classes too.
What is really bad is if the homework is meaningless busy work.
On the other hand, if a teacher gives little or no homework, students are short-changed. If no studying is required, students feel that the class is meaningless. The problem with a class with too little homework is that you may have problems in future classes because of what you didn't learn.
Beware of teachers known for giving too much or too little homework. You want an education and need to think about having sufficient knowledge for future classes.
Is the instruction interesting?
The most important thing is whether or not the teacher provides instruction in a clear and interesting manner, such that the students will enjoy the class and really learn something. You can tell this when former students say, "That was a good class" or "She was a good teacher."
A major problem in colleges is that instructors aren't hired for their teaching skills. Instead instructors are hired for their ability to do research and write papers that bring in funding to the school. Also, some college instructors are from other areas or countries have accents that are extremely difficult to understand. The fact that colleges and universities many times disregard the quality of the instruction is a crime.
However, there are good teachers in all schools. You just need to look for them.
Course of action
If you are in a situation where you are able to select your instructors, it is worth your while to do some research about possible instructors.
An incoming freshman may have little choice in selecting instructors. But after that, you can start planning for the next three and a half years by checking around for resources and getting to know people in the school who have taken similar courses or subjects.
This type of research can help you get a better education, better grades and make your life in school more enjoyable.
It is worthwhile to find out who are the good teachers in your school and then try to enroll in classes taught by those good instructors. Some schools have formal or informal rating available to students.
In other cases, you might need to ask people you know what they have heard about certain teachers.
Grades, homework and quality instruction are important for your education.
Look for the best
Resources and references
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Questions and comments
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Getting a Good Teacher