What Makes a Great Teacher?


The Owl Staff

Teachers have had to change many aspects of how they teach due to COVID-19, especially with a lot fewer people. At Boulder High, this means teaching in person and virtually at the same time.

There are many aspects that make a great teacher, as well as many factors that are not necessarily so terrific. But, I will be just talking about the aspects of those great teachers. Many teachers end up doing a lot more than students tend to think they do. In many cases, they are not trying to be mean; they are trying their best.

As a sophomore, I often have questions about why students have favorite teachers at school. Does the subject they teach play a factor in how great of a teacher they are? Does being a teacher online/in-person change what makes them excellent? 

Before we start answering these questions, we first must look into the aspects of a great teacher. I have loved learning from excellent teachers to help their students do their best instead of just giving and grading assignments. To be an excellent teacher, you need to be flexible, forgiving, understanding to your students. For example, when a student misses a day because of a family emergency, students want to have teachers who understand the situation and empathize with them. Another element that makes an admirable teacher is their way of providing time to talk with their students and for their students to get help if they need it.

Many students like teachers based on what they teach. For example, if a student likes science, their favorite teachers may be science teachers. Personally, I love numbers and in my opinion, math teachers are always great. So possibly, the subject that they teach contributes to how much the students like them.

Math and science share similar concepts like calculations and data taking whereas language arts and social studies are more reading and writing based. (Isabel Oliver)

I sent out a form to 300 students asking what they liked about teachers who teach a certain subject. Junior Clara Hassan said, “great math teachers can not only teach a concept or formula but also explain why it works. They are also able to give real-life applications for the things that we learn in math class to make it more interesting and appealing to students.” I appreciate it when math teachers are enthusiastic about teaching the subject. They make students feel like you really want to be there and make you more excited about their class.

Science has always been one of my favorite subjects. Most of the class revolves around performing experiments, which is always fun and a great way to experience hands-on learning. Sophomore Joseph Sustronk agrees and loves “interacting with the students’ interests and putting them into their problems/ work.” It is great when science teachers give students opportunities to make up work if they miss a day and work with other students on projects.

Let’s talk about language arts. Many English teachers have a similar aesthetic. They wear glasses, drink coffee, and are usually in warm clothes; they all love their careers and want their students to learn. Dedicated language lets teachers find ways to give their students fun essays, learn while being interested in what they are writing about. For example, they can have their students write about their favorite sport or a favorite movie and argue why it is the best.

In this survey, students’ responses varied for which subject they thought the teachers were the best. (Kai Fox)

Last but not least, social studies teachers. Dedicated social studies teachers find a way to make what they are teaching fun. In 8th grade, my social studies teacher made the class a lot more fun by showing us many movies and documentaries to keep our attention. Also, teachers can make the class entertaining through something like a Kahoot. Hassan says, “great social studies teachers explain the historical context and why parts of history are important for today, so it’s not just memorizing names and dates, but instead more interesting and interconnected.”

Since COVID-19 has seized our world, in Boulder, we can no longer attend in-person school. At home, learning has changed a lot. Most importantly, it has changed the way our teachers teach and how our students learn.

Students’ opinions have changed in online learning about what makes an exceptional online teacher. Passionate teachers during online school have been very accepting and flexible. They have to understand and accommodate their students experiencing more technical issues. While teaching online, many try to be positive with everything going on right now and try to make every interaction a fun learning experience. One feature that not so terrific online teachers do is lecture all class because it’s hard to focus on a lecture even in class and a lot harder with all the distractions at home and students are also sitting down all day in front of a screen. Being online versus in-person teacher changes what makes them excellent. 

What truly makes a teacher amazing in their students’ eyes is teachers that are nice to their students no matter what class they teach or where they teach it while also having their students learn the information. While everything is new and weird this year, there’s no doubt that every teacher in BVSD is trying their hardest to teach their students and still be the great teachers that we know and love.