The essence of a good teacher

We need to open a new frontier in our exploration of good teaching: the inner landscape of a teacher’s life. To chart that landscape fully, three important paths must be taken- intellectual, emotional, and spiritual- and none can be ignored. Reduce teaching to intellect and it becomes a cold abstraction; reduce it to emotions and it becomes narcissistic; reduce it to the spiritual and it loses the anchor to the world. Intellect, emotion, and spirit depend on each other for wholeness. They are interwoven in the human self and in education at its best, and we need to interweave them in our pedagogical discourse as well.( Parker Palmer)


Here is a secret hidden in plain sight: good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher. (Parker Palmer)


I had several good teachers that come to my mind and that incorporate the qualities that Parker Palmer talks about. My middle school science teacher was there for me in a difficult time. She came out from the “teacher role” and showed me she cared in the most simple way, by giving me a hug, when my mom passed away. My high school science teacher was a sensitive and caring person that manage to create a community within our class. She would tell us stories about her life, and then those stories would be connected by miracle with the unit she was teaching. Who does that? During our chemistry class, she would know to combine a good dose of humor with precise lab techniques that we would follow under her close guidance.

She was a teacher inside and outside the school. We would go on hikes with her and she would share important knowledge with us. As we went on a trail she would spot a plant, tell us the scientific name, what it is used for, and then it was our turn to describe something that caught our eye. She managed to unite her identity, her students, and the subject that she was teaching. She passed on that passion for learning to us, and the inquiry based activities. It was ok to come up with a different answer if you had the evidence to back it up. Her classroom doors were always open for us. I learned from her that asking questions is not a weakness,and that in time can improve your learning, and comprehension.

One thought on “The essence of a good teacher”

  1. Ioana, sounds like a great community to foster in the classroom by making it personal. Sharing is caring after all. To share yourself with a group is express you care about them and trust them with your stories. They, too, can trust you with their well being. Bringing humor to a lab is a plus as well. Too often, labs feel so sterile and cold.

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