UCSA President James Addington recently spoke at the UC Teaching Awards ceremony. Here he shares what students believe makes a great teacher.
Thank-you for making this university what it is – a great place to learn and to be taught, and a great place to succeed.
UCSA can put on events, we can build up our clubs, we can support and advocate. But it doesn’t really mean anything if students aren’t being taught, if they aren’t learning successfully. Because at the end of the day, the core student experience comes from the lecture theatre, tutorial room, or the lab.
If we do not have great teachers to back it up, then it’s hard to provide students with that great student experience.
What makes a great teacher?
I set out to find that out – and made the mistake of typing it into Google. But what I quickly found out is there a lot of different opinions on what makes a great teacher.
Some people say a great teacher:
- Respects students
- Is warm, accessible, enthusiastic and caring
- Sets high expectations for all students
- Has his/her own love of learning
- Is a skilled leader
- Can ‘shift gears’
- Collaborates with colleagues on an ongoing basis
- Maintains professionalism in all areas.
My favourite explanation is that a great teacher creates a sense of community and belonging in the classroom.
So where does that leave us, as everyone clearly has different opinions/perceptions.
I guess if you want to summarise it all… it’s the level of impact they have on a student’s life. This may be a passing of knowledge, or a stirring up or challenging the students to be critical or to be innovative, to impact them to change their mindset or behaviour.
I think personally, the great teachers who have been in my life are those who have challenged me to think differently.
The most important thing though is that every teacher should never underestimate the impact you can have on a student’s life. And it’s this level of the impact that can make teachers great.
So thanks for being great. Thanks for helping to make this community, a community where students succeed and belong. And thank-you for positively impacting their lives.