What Would Mayberry Do?


What Makes a Great Teacher?

by Dora Rae Phillips

Our hypothesis:  Ask anyone this question and you’ll begin to notice a pattern in the responses.

The Test:  We asked the W.H.S. student body and teachers, “In your opinion, what makes a great teacher?”

Here are some of the (anonymous) responses…

“I think what makes a great teacher is someone who likes to teach.  You can tell when teachers are just going through the motions.  They tend to use the text book way too much.”

“You have to engage the students.  Get their attention and keep it.  We all know attention spans these days have been shortened by Sponge Bob and his ilk.”

“My favorite teacher was not the funniest, or the best speaker.  He was the one who cared the most.”

“He makes it interesting.  He relates it to real life stuff.”

“She really knows the subject.  She’s prepared for every class.  …does a good job of explaining it, too.”

“Who was it, Socrates maybe, who said (and I paraphrase):  First the student appears ready to learn, and then comes the teacher; or something like that.  In other words, if you’re not here to learn, then it doesn’t matter how great of a teacher I am.”

“He doesn’t just spew out a bunch of info and hope that we get it.  He gets frustrated with us, but he also goes the extra mile to make sure we understand the material.”

“I think you have to be willing to try new things in a classroom.  Not every kid learns the same way or responds to the same methods.”

“As a teacher, what has helped me tremendously, is having a good partnership with the school psychologist in helping students who are struggling in one way or another.  But also, I think it’s critical that kids have a good environment at home and a good support system.”

“Students and teachers, both have to be always learning.  They have to enjoy it for the sake of self-improvement and empowerment.”


From our informal survey, we noticed a pattern.  And upon further research, we discovered that the responses showed an interesting similarity to what  The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) in 1989 described as being the five core propositions for what makes a great teacher.

The 5 Propositions are:

Proposition 1:  Teachers are committed to students and their learning.

Proposition 2:  Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.

Proposition 3:  Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.

Proposition 4:  Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.

Proposition 5:  Teachers are members of learning communities.

We also learned from this experiment that we have some great teachers, who are dedicated to the profession.

  1. The following underground, student publication is a work of fiction and should not be construed as truthful or representative of any person(s), school(s), or of any community. Any similarities are purely coincidental and unintentional.

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