Sunday, January 13, 2008


“ A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others”. Author unknown.

All teachers can’t make impact in the minds of their students. But a very few teachers touch the hearts of their students thereby becoming legends. There is no specific formula or a secret mantra in this, except dedication, determination and discipline in the methods of their teaching. Good teachers work with passion and they are totally involved in their profession and they contribute their best without expecting any rewards or returns from their students except with burning desire to be great at their profession. Many people think that teaching is an inborn quality to become a great teacher and it proved beyond doubt there are teachers who were not blessed great but became great teachers by virtue of their sincere efforts, abilities through practice, concentration and training. William Arthur ward said, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires”. A teacher is like a player of a musical instrument. He can produce either a sad music or a joyful music by way of playing the instrument. A good subject can be taught in an ineffective manner and a poor subject can be taught in an effective manner. And everything depends totally on the presentation of the player (i.e.teacher).

Wikipedia defined teacher, “In education, teachers facilitate, student learning, often in a school or academy. The objective typically a course of study, lesson plan or a practical skill including learning and thinking skills". In China, teacher is called as SHIFU, or SIFU, in UK, it is called as MENTOR and teacher is also called as GURU in India and is also referred to as RABBI or TUTOR etc.,


Teachers can be classified in various types; such as good teacher versus bad teacher, friendly teacher versus hostile teacher, jovial teacher versus strict teacher, dominant teacher versus submissive teacher, serious teacher versus casual teacher and so on.

According to R.Verdi, “Good teachers are those who know how little they know, bad teachers are those who think they know more than they don't know”. The good teachers never boost nor boast of themselves too much. However knowledgeable they might be, they think and declare that whatever they know is only a drop of an ocean. On the other hand, the bad teachers are poor performers who are not knowledgeable and in order to cover up their weaknesses, they pretend to be strong at subject. These kinds of teachers always blame their students for not concentrating in the class. It is like a weak tradesman who always blames his tools and never admits his weak workmanship.

A friendly teacher is always amenable, adjustable and empathizes with their students and narrows down the gap between faculty and students thereby developing relations. Such a teacher is always accessible to the students for clarifying their doubts. On the other hand, a hostile teacher is inimical and his actions towards their students are reactive rather than proactive. They display unfriendly and irritating attitude when they hear from their students that other teachers are teaching better than him. Hostile teachers don’t take criticism constructively and positively in their stride.

The jovial teachers are replete with fun and humor. They entertain students with lot of humorous jokes and anecdotes and they believe in imparting education in an entertaining manner. They do not get provoked and take the comments from the students jovially. While teaching, this kind of teachers believes in the carrot but not stick policy. This kind of teachers behaves from ‘Child Ego State’. (According Dr.Berne, there are three types of ego states – ‘Patent Ego State’, ‘Adult Ego State’ and Child Ego State’ i.e. PAC Ego States). On the other hand, the strict teachers are, no doubt, good teachers but they believe in stick rather than carrot in the method of teaching. They expect the class to be total silent and they do not encourage their students to discuss on the topic among themselves. This kind of teachers is highly knowledgeable and uncompromising. Mostly they behave like Parent Ego State.

The dominant teachers are again a type of strict teachers but the degree of strictness is higher and hence can also be called as dictatorial or autocratic teachers. They hardly bother about the sentiments, views and opinions of their students. On the contrary, the submissive teachers are those who always succumb to the demands of their students and they do not know how to control their students. Both these types are unwarranted and uncalled for and what is expected is the average of these two traits which can be called as assertive teachers who strike a fine chord between dominant teachers and submissive teachers. An assertive teacher behaves from all the three ego states i.e. Parent, Adult and Child Ego States situational. “The best teachers teach from heart, not from the book”, anonymous. An assertive teacher is the best teacher and an ideal teacher who teaches from his heart.

The serious teachers are by nature serious in their approach and they teach without adding any touch of humor but they are very efficient and effective and believe in professional approach. The students learn the topics in a professional manner. For this kind of teachers work is worship. They always mean business. On the contrary, the casual teachers take everything lightly but not seriously and may not be stuffed with adequate knowledge and believe in completing the syllabus and passing their time. This kind of teachers’ work for the sake of working and they never win the hearts of their students.


Lola May quoted, “There are three things to remember when teaching; know your stuff, know whom you are stuffing; and then stuff them elegantly”. Any one can become a good teacher if equipped with certain qualities and characteristics.

A teacher wears many a hat such as, he should be an effective communicator, leader, disciplinarian, mentor, guide, parent, friend, philosopher, motivator, counselor, actor, a role model, well wisher, manager, fair and impartial etc.,
He should not take the things for granted.

Should concentrate on all students equally but rather more on the weak or dull students who needs little more care and attention.

Should carry the entire students along with them as a team leader.

A teacher should be thorough and well versed with the subjective knowledge and should add outside information along with the topics relevantly whenever warranted.

Should have higher levels of energy and enthusiasm.

Should remember the names of all the students in the class.

Should always work with sincerity and integrity.

Should know how to present the topic based on common sense. If students are found to be not tuned or going out of the track they should be criticized privately. On the other hand, if any students does anything miracle must be praised publicly in the class. Such acts serve as positive strokes and the rest of the students would like to catch up it with such positive trend.

A great teacher teaches but also inspires, motivates and changes the mindsets of their students and also the entire world. A great teacher always works with heart and head, as both are essential for effective teaching. A great teacher never demands but always commands respect from his students.

A great teacher is not only a teacher but also a great listener and learner. He teaches what he knows to his students and learns from what the students’ know. Egotism is not the quality of a great teacher. A good teacher concentrates more on weak students rather on bright students as Mara Collins said, “The good teacher makes the poor student good and good student superior”.

A great teacher always sees big picture. Whenever he finds that the topic is tough he breaks down the topic into several small pieces and explains the small pieces effectively and efficiently to the students and gradually assembles the pieces into a one single entity mentally and explains. He should be a voracious reader of various books, magazines, journals, browser of many educational web sites and should be a good observer.

A great teacher is like a Gardner who plants seeds, waters and feels satisfied when it starts blooming. He knows the psychology of his students, must be highly creative, dreamer and must rise expectations and aspirations of his students. He should never be reactive but should always be proactive. He lays stress not only on education but also on ethical values and character building. He involves in character building apart from subject building.


“More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given”, Bertrand Russell.

A good teacher is always a good storyteller. He should start the topic with a story and should gradually enter into the topic without the knowledge of the students and at the end of the session, only students should know that the teacher covered the relevant topics.

Students should feel that they entered into a theatre where they forget their real world problems the moment they enter the classroom. All that depends on the skills and abilities being displayed by the teacher.

A teacher may start the class with an interesting anecdote, or day to day happening report or a newspaper report or something sensational and emotional everyday so as to draw the attention of their students.

A teacher can also start delivering lecture by role playing, or by referring an interesting case studies or by his own personal experience and with his industrial insights so as to bring the student to the real life from the real life.

He can also throw the topic for open discussion and get their views or opinions or comments related to the topic. By this the teacher is able to unearth the hidden talents lying the in the subconscious minds of their students. It is like brainstorming or it encourages the students to think innovatively, imaginatively and it ignites their minds. It is apt to quote Chinese proverb in this context, “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand”.

A good teacher always explains the concepts and fundamentals in depth as it serves as a strong infrastructure (foundation) over which they can build their superstructure.

Body language of the teacher must always complement with his oral language as any inconsistency between body language and oral language can create doubts in the minds of the students. Body language contributes 93% of communication while the oral language contributes 7% of the communication. The combination of both is the complete communication. Although men can talk many things orally but his body language always speaks his sincerity and integrity. The teacher must best make use of his body language up to the hilt and, if required, he has to act in order to reach his students. Gail Godwin rightly said, "Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourth pure theatre”.

A good teacher is a great democrat and he always encourages students in participation of discussion on the subject to generally different dimensional thinking, apart from encouraging out-of-the box thinking and unconventional and uncharted path. A great teacher should be totally free from doubts. He should be highly confident and comfortable while teaching.

A good teacher is an effective and efficient communicator and makes the complex things simple with his easy and straight teaching tools. He tickles the students and enhances their creativity and innovation. If any student raises any doubts, then the teacher must ask any other person in the class to clarify the same and if it is not clarified he must accept the ball into his court and must clarify through simple methods. By this, the teacher provides an opportunity to other students to come out with their way of answering the questions.

A good teacher blows away, if any myths in the minds of their students and he should encourage and challenge them to touch their upper limits. If stars are their goals then sky is their limit. A good teacher must be like a doctor with a healthy and positive mindset. Because when a patient goes to a doctor for taking medicine by injection, the patient will have fear to get the same executed. Then the doctor says nothing would happen and engages the patient in a friendly chat and offers medicine by injection. Similarly if any topic is tough, the teacher must infuse confidence in his students by saying it as simple and then should explain the concepts clearly with clarity of thought.

Teaching is nothing but a novel method of presenting the subject. One should know clearly that all successful teachers may not be knowledgeable teachers and all knowledge teachers may not be successful teachers. It is aptly said, “The essence of education is not what is poured in a student’s mind but what is planted”.

A good teacher should be a great learner and he should be fully prepared on the topic by referring various books and then only he should enter the class as Joseph Joubert correctly said, “To teach is to learn twice”.

A good teacher should not only know ‘How to teach?’ but also should
know ‘How to learn?’ Because the way he learns and the same way he can teach with wider applications and implications. To put it in the words of John Carolus S.J, “We think too much about effective methods of teaching and not enough about effective methods of learning”.

If necessary a good teacher must carry audio, visual material, newspaper cuttings, to the class to experiment and experience the topic lively. The teacher should not be static on the dais like a statue; he must move his body from place to place to make the teaching natural and pleasant. In the middle of the teaching he should ask relevant questions about the topic to keep students agile, active, awake and alert in the class. Smile, as and when it is essential to put the students at ease.

He must link the topic from previous class to the present and to the future classes and there should be effective interconnectivity of the topic so those students can feel that the subject is being taught with a natural flow. He should also ask questions from the previously discussed classes so that the students will prepare seriously at home to avoid ambiguity and confusion in the class. If necessary, tests have to be conducted periodically to ensure that the students study seriously at home and also to overcome from examination fever.

When the author took up teaching profession about Management Science (M S) subject in an engineering college initially, the students did not understand when he introduced his name along with his defense background. A student got up and asked seriously, “Sir, I did not hear your name properly and would you mind repeating your name?” To that, the author further questioned the student to name the subject he was teaching. Then the student quickly replied as Management Science. Then the author asked the student to name the subject in abbreviated format. Then the student replied as M S. Then the author further asked the student to add RAO as suffix to M.S. and then the student felt greatly happy to remember the author’s name as Prof. M.S.RAO. This is also a way of teaching by questioning and involving in conversation and it is popularly called as Socratic method of teaching.

While teaching apart from the academic curriculum the students should be taught about the practical application of the concepts taught and whenever something is related their career, it must be focussed firmly and finely. It is advisable and desirable to reconfirm from the students during the course of teaching by using sentences like ‘Is that OK? Is it clear ?, Do you understand ?, Is it alright ? And so on. It is a fine technique to keep the students totally immersed in class.

Conducting regular quiz programs or topic related quiz activities encourage the students to involve actively and briskly even at home related to syllabus studies. It is far better by gifting the bright students based on score they get during such programs. Or else, providing ‘appreciation letters’ or ‘participation certificates’ for such activities will also motivate them to stay to the academic syllabus.

Teacher should respect their students and should hold them to high standards. Teacher should not snub students if they ask for any clarifications during the session. And it is essential to conduct question and answer session at the end of each session by catering some time. It is like taking stock of the session and often it serves as an effective feedback. A teacher can also assess and gauge himself how effectively he taught. A teacher should always stay focussed on the subject and should never lose sight of. If warranted, it is necessary to repeat the things to students.

A good teacher must step into the shoes of the students and must empathize. Offer model answers as guide and it helps them to address the examinations effectively. Preparation of various model answers is a must to have a feel of the examination. Teacher should adopt multiple methodologies and strategies while teaching. It is like ‘end’ is one where as the ‘means’ are many.


It is the noblest profession and there is a great degree of sanctity attached to it. Most of the people take up this profession by chance not by choice. The qualified people when they pass out from their institutions look for jobs immediately and a few utilize this profession as a stopgap one. If one likes this, then one can get attached and attracted to this profession forever or else, can make a switch over to other professions.

In fact, there is a sense of thrill while teaching to the students because shaping of students’ future only depends in the hands of the teacher. And a teacher can derive great sense of job satisfaction and sense of achievement when he learns that his students achieved miracles in their career. A great teacher takes pride in molding the future of their students.

This profession brings out both creativity and innovation to the fore both from the teacher side and from the students’ side. Consciously or unconsciously many hidden things unfold during the process of teaching. Rather one can tap one’s own natural and creative things spontaneously.

A teacher can feel like a commander till the completion of the class as the total students obey the teacher with discipline and dedication. And none can enter the class without his permission thereby having full command and control over the students.

A teacher can also feel like a priest/pastor as the schools are treated as temples of learning thereby attracting a great amount of dignity.

A teacher can learn his best from his students by posing various questions to the students thereby getting multiple shades of views, opinions, ideas and comments on each topic. This will help grow richer in knowledge and stature.

A teacher can work at best by experimenting various things in the class room and rather each class can be treated as a workshop. He can adopt trial and error method for each experiment and if he passes in the trial he can adopt the same strategies/tools in other classes. And if he fails, he can reject the same. In a nutshell, a teacher can compare his classroom like laboratory for conducting many experiments.

In this profession an individual can wear many masks, like that of a Hollywood stars who plays different roles in their film career.

In this profession, one enjoys maximum number of holidays and as a result wok-life balance can be maintained effectively. One can pursue writing books during holidays and leisure or can go for part time employment during long vacation. And if possible, one can involve in experimentation of what he learnt and taught in the classrooms in the outside world thereby generating his own case studies.

Even if a teacher does not have sense of humor, the same can be cultivated by moving friendly with their students. One can feel young both in mind and heart as they move with students freely and frankly. By being with young people a teacher thinks very young all the time and he can work with higher levels of energy and enthusiasm.

Every profession is getting highly complex and complicated due to the growing technologies and thus leading to higher levels of stress and burnout. In this profession, there is a least possibility of getting burnt out. Even if one gets stressed out he can regain and recoup very easily due to the availability of more leisure time.

As long as the teacher commands subject he will command respect from their students, from their superiors and it helps and ensures job security. So why not to choose this noble profession as a wonderful career option?


A teacher should have passion, persuasive skills, presentation skills, involvement, application of knowledge, role-playing and should base on trial and error methods of teaching.

An average teacher teaches the topic, a good teacher converts dull students into bright students and a great teacher creates great students who in turn excel in their area of chosen line. And such great teachers become teaching legends. Alexander the Great quoted, “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well”. The great teachers across the globe are Aristotle, Galileo, Isaac Newton, Pythogorous and so on to name a few. They are great because they contributed their best in their life times. In India, every year on 5th September, Teachers Day is celebrated and across the world the Teachers Day is celebrated on 5th October. It indicates the importance and significance attached to teachers and to the teaching profession. “Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions”, someone suitably said.


Think of teachers those who made an impact in your mind right from your childhood. And find out the reasons what made them so memorable in your minds. Recollect the tools, techniques, strategies, methodologies etc., which made prints in your mind. Analyze one by one slowly and list out. Then gradually apply them in your practical life whenever you get an opportunity. Teaching must ignite passion in the minds of the students. Inculcate and cultivate the out of the box thinking, unconventional thinking and travel the uncharted path and leave a mark behind. Always think, dream and sleep over the novel methods of teaching. With interest and by regular interactions with students, one can evolve one’s own methods of teaching. Read and reread the books of great teachers across the world and find out what made them stand distinct from the rest. Visit Webster related to teaching you will get bundle of knowledge and information.

Look at your strengths and weaknesses and always try to overcome your weaknesses by regular practice and training. Take active part in various seminars, workshops and training programs and learn. Especially in such wonderful workshops, the birds of the same feather flock together. And that is yet again a wonderful platform to interact and learn many things.

Regularly take feedback from your students and always find out the key areas that needs for improvement and betterment. Students are the source of strength for any teacher. The student’s mindsets’ are not controlled and conditioned. They are young, fresh and energetic with virgin minds. They are far away from preconceived notions and views. Their views and comments are authentic and genuine.

The feedback covers many areas such as body language, communication skills, relevance, examples, data, novelty and so on. Every area must be given to a point of scale and it can be measured accordingly periodically.

Similarly take feedback from your subordinates, peers, and superiors and discuss with them regularly the ways and means of bringing out the best out of you and also out of your students.


Plutarch quoted, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be ignited”. Usage of blackboard is essential as it provides effective visual effects and the human brain remembers more when presented in visual rather than audio effects. In listening there is a popular term ‘Time Lag’. It is the gap between what a teacher can speak and what a student can listen. Human brain is a vast powerful and wonderful device and it accepts 500 words per minute where as the speaker can deliver between 125 to 150 words per minute on an average. This gap between the speaker and the listener is termed as ‘Time Lag’.

Apart from visual and audio effects the teacher should question the students related to the topic in the middle of the teaching. As a result, the student’s mind does not wander during the time lag and student summarizes what the teacher has taught and keeps totally away from daydreaming in the class. By this process, the student is encouraged to involve effectively and also to keep his mind with in the class but certainly not out of the class.

The teacher must touch upon the topic systematically, chronologically by point wise by arousing curiosity from the beginning to the end of the session. By referring relevant case studies or personal examples or anecdotes a teacher can enhance the students’ mental presence in the class. The teacher should be flexible in his body language and move around the dais/podium with a friendly smile and encourage the students’ participation. The author interconnects and applies all the tools and techniques in order to make the teaching process a pleasant and memorable one.


According to Hindu philosophy, the Mother is the first supreme (Matrudevo Bhava), the Father is the second supreme ( Pitrudevo Bhava ) and theTeacher is the third supreme ( Acharyadevo Bhava ). The teacher is accorded one of the highest statuses and which is indeed unquestionable.

Teachers are not born, but with practice, they can be made. The great teachers are not born in the minds of their students but they are born in the hearts of their students. And the greatest teachers are born in the hearts of the great teachers.

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