Teacher Appreciation Week is celebrated the first full week of May every year. It’s a great reminder that we should be thankful for all the amazing educators who go the extra miles to educate our youth.

Terrific teachers possess many positive traits. They come to class armed with knowledge, ready to make a difference, and possess a genuine concern for their students’ best interests.

But what are the signals that your child’s teacher—beyond his or her book knowledge and caring attitude—is a truly awesome professional?

Here are five signs a student will notice on the way to spotting an awesome teacher.

  • My teacher expects a lot from me: Truth is, students wouldn’t want it any other way.  They want  their education to challenge them, and most want to feel that they’ve earned their grade.  Students understand that they need to learn as much as possible to be ready for what lies ahead in upper grades, in college, and in their careers. At the same time, they realize the best teachers won’t put more on their plate than they can reasonably handle. When a teacher pushes a student and they respond with their best effort, the student takes pride in accomplishment—and the teacher does, too. On occasions when a students does fall short, the outstanding teacher does not give up. There is no shame in failing, only in failing to try.
  • My teacher comes prepared with material beyond the lesson: The text books and online lessons give students the nuts and bolts—the facts and figures about what they need to know. But the awesome teacher provides real examples that relate to what the student is learning and how those things apply to real-life situations that the student will face down the road. An outstanding teacher’s organization and readiness indicates knowledge of the subject matter that a student can trust. Sometimes, the teacher has experienced a lesson first-hand—been to the places or met the people that apply to what is being taught. Together, the best students and teachers dig deep into what they’re learning, embracing technology and new learning techniques along the way.
  • My teacher is excited about the subject matter: The student can sense it in the teacher’s words and actions. Once the basics have been mastered, the exceptional teacher explains how cool it is to put numbers and scientific knowledge to use, see history and civics in action, and for students to express their thoughts through the written word, pictures, and other media. The awesome teacher can’t wait to move forward, direct a student to an extra book or chapter, and provide that little extra nugget—even if it’s a trivial or humorous example—to engage the student and encourage him to want to learn more. And just like the student, that teacher hungers for additional information about the subject at hand.
  • My teacher reaches out to my parents: Report cards and midterm reports are not enough. Parents want to know what’s going on at school and how their student is absorbing the material being presented. Today’s parents want to be involved, and it pleases a motivated learner whenever the teacher takes the time to email the parents a note or call to provide an update. More times than not, that student is doing well. But if not, students will appreciate that the awesome teacher cares enough to keep the parents in the loop. It’s not an invasion of  privacy. It’s about mutual respect. Online education requires a team, and students respect a teacher who is involved as an important player.
  • My teacher smiles: Whether the student is working with the teacher in person or online, the child knows that a smiling teacher is an engaged teacher. Smiling, like laughter, can be contagious; and it puts the student at ease, even if he is not in a good mood and ready to learn. Harekrishna Behera, a teacher from India, wrote in 2009 that, “a teacher touches the heart of a student through the magnetic touch of smile. (A) smile creates confidence and love. . . . A smile is the sign of the personal self-confidence. . . . Unless the children love the teacher, how can they love the subject?”

K12 is fortunate to have an abundance of awesome teachers. Do you have an AWESOME teacher? Let us know in the comments section!

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