Which teachers get the grade? Students Share Top Qualities – Berkeley High Jacket


Spend time on any high school campus and you’re bound to hear students talking about which teachers are good and which ones they prefer to avoid.

“A good teacher makes a good class,” said Talia Antell-Proulx, a junior in communication, arts and science (CAS). She went on to say that any subject can be interesting if the lessons are taught by a good teacher. Often high school students talk about their lessons in terms of the quality of their teachers. This instinct is perhaps amplified at Berkeley High School (BHS), where multiple teachers often teach the same students. But what are the most important attributes when it comes to assessing what makes a good teacher? It can be difficult for students to express exactly what makes them appreciated by a teacher, but there are some basic characteristics that most students can agree on.

The interest with which a teacher listens to student contributions and communicates class expectations can often cause students to favor one teacher over another. Zulqarnain Sheikh, a first year BHS student, said that when teachers “listen, recognize our concerns, and help children in the best possible way”, they show they really care.

Antell-Proulx agreed, explaining that when teachers listen to students, better student-teacher relationships are formed, which in turn “creates a better learning atmosphere.” One of the teachers from Antell-Proulx recently worked with her class to create a list of rules for cell phone use in the classroom. The teacher gathered feedback from her students and then adopted the rules that mattered most to the students. This type of communication created a fair and enjoyable learning environment.

Appreciated teachers also show confidence in the classroom. This includes an understanding of the material being taught as well as the ability to present lessons in a variety of interesting ways to best suit students’ learning styles. “There are definitely teachers whose teaching style suits me best, and these are the courses in which I am most successful,” said Antell-Proulx. Cheikh added that he appreciates the teachers who “make our job easier. [students] to understand the topic. Essentially, teachers need to know how to interact with their audience. Of course, staying organized and knowing how and when to discipline students is also important.

Teachers who demonstrate a genuine unbridled passion for their subject are also appreciated. Allison Toan, another first year BHS student, explained that when teachers are passionate about their topic, they are able to attract students better. This makes the class more compelled to remember information and be careful during lessons. “Passionate teachers don’t just talk to the class, they show us what they love to teach, why they love to teach,” Toan said. “Teaching is not just a job for them, they want to be there. Toan’s photography teacher embodies this positive quality. By incorporating relevant darkroom and camera jokes into slide show presentations, the teacher demonstrates her love for the subject she teaches as well as her more personal side.

In addition, good teachers want to improve. Philip Halpern, co-head of CAS and teacher of video production for twenty-nine years, believes that flexibility and communication with students helps teachers become better at what they do. “Kids come to class with a lot of strengths and areas for growth. Our job is to help them realize their potential, ”said Halpern. “You have to let them lead, you have to listen to them. They know what they need best and teachers would do well to listen to them. Halpern added that some students might feel reluctant to provide feedback to teachers, “but a lot of teachers really want to meet the needs of their students.”

There is no doubt that teaching is hard work, especially with the limited resources, large class sizes, and public school curriculum requirements present at BHS. So much value is added to the learning environment when teachers go the extra mile to communicate with their students. If a teacher’s approach seems inflexible or inflexible, many would prefer students to let them know. After all, as Halpern said, “the best kind of feedback is an honest feedback.”


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