This Is What Good Teaching Looks Like

Late August or early September, students head back to school. As parents, we want our children to have a positive experience in school.

Some of my best memories from school have nothing to do with common core or testing. Some of my best experiences teaching have nothing to do with identifying goals for student focus or following common core and testing.

I learned to play my violin in fifth grade through a program they called “Music in our Schools.” Our junior high school girls’ choir, boys’ choir, and mixed choir competed with other groups in our area. In high school, our Spanish classes toured Mexico, and our orchestra flew to Denmark to participate in the International Youth Music Festival. In geometry, we used what we learned to make string pictures.

As a teacher, I taught my students to play Beggar My Neighbor, the card game played by Pip and Estella in Great Expectations; and when I taught To Kill a Mockingbird we discussed parties from that time period and the manners children were expected to display. My theater students learned the ins and outs of sound effects and radio as they made a tape of Sorry, Wrong Number.

So many of these creative ventures are being pushed out of education because of various reasons.

As I was cleaning today, I opened a box of paper to sift through. In it, I found some items from my mother’s teaching career. She retired in the 1980s.

The source of the words on one ditto is unknown, as is its date of origin; however, the ideas it presents are timeless.

In a world where people are trying to identify good teaching as well as what makes a good teacher, these ideas from the 1980’s or earlier identify the same points that some people are making today.


  1. If the children seem devoid of tension, if they are free in speaking, expressing opinions, moving.
  2. If the pupils seem to regard the teacher as a friend, rather than as a taskmaster.
  3. If there is some humor, some laughter, when appropriate.
  4. If courtesy is the accepted mode of behavior.
  5. If the pupils, as evidenced by their eyes, are interested and eager.
  6. If every opportunity for emphasis on good character is seized.
  7. If assignments, reasonable in length and difficulty, are made distinctly and explained it clearly.
  8. If directions are given while quiet reigns, before supplies are passed or books opened.
  9. If frequent opportunity is offered for the pupil to ask, as well as to answer.
  10. If the class activity involves every pupil, showing good pupil participation.
  11. If a question is put to the entire class before an individual pupil is asked to respond, stimulating thinking.
  12. If the single question elicits several responses.
  13. If pupils recite more than the teacher does.
  14. If opportunities are offered for creative activity.
  15. If, when drill is necessary, it is made interesting.
  16. If pupils are challenged and encouraged, rather than bored and discouraged.
  17. If pupils are working in pairs, using the plan, “Each one teach one; the brighter help the slower.”
  18. If the pupils are working in groups, giving evidence of attention to individual differences.
  19. If each pupil, the bright as well as the dull, is expected to, urged, exhorted it to do his very best.
  20. If the pupil is praised when he has done his best, whether the achievement is great or ever so slight.
  21. If teaching aids are employed when appropriate.
  22. If the teacher clearly knows his subject thoroughly.
  23. If the teacher has the God-given a knack of making crystal clear what he is trying to put across.
  24. If, when the teacher does not know, his answer is, “Well, let’s find out!”
  25. If what is being taught is worthwhile, contributing definitely to goals of education in a democracy.

What do you think makes a good teacher or represents good teaching?

As you move through your day to day activities and responsibilities, please remember to

live life –

keep things simple –

look for the positive –

and smile.

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