Excerpts from Rob Jenkins’ article on The Chronicle of Higher Education (3/16/2015):
Great teachers tend to be good-natured and approachable, as opposed to sour or foreboding; professional without being aloof; funny, perhaps because they don’t take themselves or their subject matter too seriously; demanding without being unkind; comfortable in their own skin; natural (they make teaching look easy even though we all know it isn’t); and tremendously creative, and always willing to entertain new ideas or try new things, sometimes even on the fly.
It’s the ability to appear completely at ease, even in command, despite being the focal point of dozens (or even hundreds) of people… Yet the best teachers are always “present” — fully in the moment, connecting with both their subject matter and their students… All it takes is a degree of self-awareness, a little concentration, and a fair amount of determination.
Preparation occurs on three levels: long-term, medium-term, and short-term…
a. long-term: your advanced degrees
b. medium-term: continue your education on a regular basis… and also continue to learn and grow as a teacher by exploring new advances in pedagogy and technology.
c. short term: go into every single class meeting as prepared as you can be, given the time you have.
4. Passion (most important!)
Passion, or love, manifests itself in the classroom in two ways: love for students and love for your subject matter… Teaching is, in a way, like a relationship. You have to work hard sometimes to keep the passion alive, and yet it’s vital that you do so.