This paper focuses on the roles and characteristics of a teacher as a key socio-psychological factor surrounding the learner in the school. The teacher factors are classified as inherent and acquired characteristics.
Teachers are professionally trained and certificated to manage and control instructional process in the school. For teaching-learning activities to take place, teacher must prepare lesson plans, produce instructional materials and adopt appropriate teaching strategies to achieve instructional objectives. Teacher needs to realize that teaching should be development-learners oriented. Without effective teacher, learners are bound to suffer intellectually. This shows the strategic position of teacher in the school system.
Therefore, Teacher occupies an important position in the school system. Of course, the teacher is a key element in the operations of the school system. His competence, knowledge, interest, devotion, commitment, dedication, professional training, attitudes and personality make up matters and largely determine the quality of services provided by him/her.
As the National policy on Education succinctly puts it-no education system can rise above the quality of its teachers. The implication is that the school learning outcomes will depend largely on teacher professional competence and performances in the school. Indeed, the educational system in which teachers are of low quality will produce students with poor inspiration ad aspirations. It is also not a gainsaying that positive attitude of teachers have been found to be positively related to their students' attitudes as well as achievement in school subjects.
QUALITIES AND CHARACTERISTICS OF A GOOD TEACHER
There are key attributes of an effective teacher and these are classified as inherent characteristics and the acquired characteristics.
THE TEACHER'S ACQUIRED CHARACTERISTICS
These are attributes which teacher needs to possess for effective performances in the school and these characteristics are not inherent but acquired qualities. The below are some of the teacher's acquired qualities:
(a) Mastery of subject matter: - A well trained and certificated teacher must show evidence of mastery of subject matter. According to Dunhill (2000) teacher knowledge must be of two fold nature. A good teacher must first possess a wide general knowledge and within the confines of this general knowledge, a sound understanding of the subject he is to teach in the classroom. Quadri K. et al (2004) corroborate that a good teacher must be well knowledge versed in his area of specialization. He must know which to teach, when to teach and how to teach. In the opinion of Obanya P.A.I (1985) the quantity and quality of the teacher's knowledge will give the teacher enough material and confidence to teach effectively.
(b) Professional Certificate: - A good teacher must be a professional and must possess one or more of the following qualifications: teachers grade II certificate (NTI), Nigeria certificate in Education (NCE), Bachelor of education (B.ED), Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) and masters in Education (M.ED) etc. A teacher without basic qualification, training and certificate can not teach properly. The minimum teaching qualification of a teacher in Nigeria according to the National policy on Education is the NCE.
(c) The teacher's ability to deliver the goods:- This refers to the teacher's manipulation of the learning experiences that go on in the school through his instructional procedure. This skill could be acquired in the process of training. Although, there are persons who are naturally gifted with instructional skills.
(d) Effective Communication:- Teacher needs to acquire linguistic competence and communication skills to teach effectively. For teaching to bring about learning, the teacher must effectively communicate the new information to the learner. According to Adewuyi and Ogunwuyi (2004) for effective communication, the teacher must have adequate knowledge of the language being used as medium of instructions in schools. Teachers' command of language goes a long way in determining the effectiveness of any lesson presentation.
As much as possible, teacher should be fluent and accurate in speech realizing his role as a model to the learner.
THE TEACHER'S INHERENT CHARACTERISTICS
These refer to those characteristics of the teacher which are part and parcel of his personality and intellectual make up. The inherent characteristics include the teacher's sex, age, attitudes, interests, empathy and understanding of human relations:
(a) The sex of the teacher: - There are certain factors associated with being either a man or a woman which can affect the teacher effectiveness in the school. Demands of marital life could impair the effectiveness of female teachers when it comes to classroom teaching. Male teachers, are usually less burdened by household chores and thus stand a better chance of preparing adequately for their teaching (Obanya et al 1985).
(b) The age of the teacher:- Age chronological factor could influence the performance of the teacher in the school. Obanya et al (1985) explain that old teachers are likely to be more stable and devoted to their teaching than younger teachers. Age in the service or years of teaching experience essentially determines teacher's effectiveness. Apart from the rich experience which older teachers have got, they are more likely to stay longer in the teaching profession than younger teachers. It is however the qualitative experience of the older teacher that can make him effective in the classroom and not simply the number of years he has spent on the job.
(c) The Teachers' Attitudes:- Attitudes affect teacher's performance level. Adeyanju A. et al (2004) opine that a teacher who has a positive attitude towards teaching and towards his pupils will obviously teach more effectively than the teacher who has developed negative attitudes towards the learners he has to deal with.
Teacher as a molder of lives must be embodiment of good character and virtues. A good teacher is one who respects truth, who is sincere in words and acts and whose personal life sets a good example to his pupils.
Quadri et al (2004) contribute that a good teacher must be caring, kind and firm in dealing with pupils. Firmness means the ability to ensure fair play and gives equal treatment to all students in his class.
(d) The Teacher's Interest: - Interests affects our level of effectiveness. Teacher job satisfaction and motivation are factors that can arouse the teacher's interest in teaching. Low teacher's morale and interest would inescapably lead to poor learning outcomes in the school.
(e) The Teacher's Intellectual Level:- Teacher's intellectual attainment aids teaching effectiveness. According to Adedeji (2007) a knowledgeable and brilliant teacher will command the respect of learners as well as of the wider society.
(f) Pleasant Personality: - For a teacher to be truly a role model, he must possess good personality. Teachers are expected to have good human relationship, highly tolerant and emotionally balanced. A good personality trait of an effective teacher is perseverance. Perseverance as an attribute assists the teacher to achieve his instructional goals even when he faces opposition from other teachers in the school (Farrant 1999).
(g) The teacher's empathy:- The teacher needs to be empathic to teach effectively, that is, he should see the pupils he teaches from pupils' points of view, not from his own point of view. Such empathetic approach will make the teacher relate more humanly with the pupils, understand their problems and teach more effectively than the teacher who does not understand the learner and his problems. Since empathy improves the teacher's understanding of pupils, there is better teacher-pupil interaction and this will leads to effective teaching.
(h) Willingness to learn: - A good teacher will remain a student all his life because learning is a continuum. The best teachers are those who have the humility and capacity to learn by success and failure (castle 1975). Teacher needs to realize that learning is a life long programs and an effective teacher needs to engage in activities to increase, improve, update and stimulate his knowledge and skills for improved and efficient delivery. The acquired learning activities of an affective teacher include seminars, workshops, conferences etc.
(i) Knowledge of His Pupils:- For teacher to be successful, he must have profound knowledge of the learner (Dunhill 2000). The nature of the child must be studied and understood by the teacher. He must realize that children differ in bodily health, mental ability and temperament. A good teacher must always remember that the learners are product of different home environments and they have different potentials and opportunity to develop their learning interests.
Teachers have to know and understand learners' previous experiences and their individual differences. A good teacher must take cognizance of learners' psychological needs, adaptive behaviors and constraints.
The choice of teaching method of an effective teacher must accommodate and cater for these differences.
Summary and Conclusion
Teacher as a socio-psychological factor surrounding the learner in the school must be able to show evidence of mastering the subject matter and must be able to demonstrate ability to impact it on the pupils using appropriate teaching methods. Effective communication skill is another important endowment of an effective teacher. The teacher, essentially, should be proficient and articulate enough to teach effectively. Resourcefulness and originality are other characteristics of an effective teacher. In educational context, teacher is said to be resourceful, if he shows the capacity to generate ideas and improvise relevant instructional materials. Also, a teacher is said to be original, if he has the ability to create and develop his own unique idea and method of putting the knowledge across to pupils effectively.
The teacher should be professionally trained and re-trained continuously through in-services programmes such as coaching, correspondence, workshops and conferences.
Patience and commitment are equally essential attributes of a good teacher. Teacher as a model, needs to teach cleanliness and kindness by example. Indeed, teachers are to impart knowledge, train the intellect, discipline the learners, supervise instructional process and evaluate the lessons.
Similarly, there are numerous responsibilities of a conscientious teacher and these include
Planning the content of lessons as well as organizing and executing curricular activities. A good teacher must understand the essentials of school discipline. Teachers must be aware that children differ in their hereditary make-up, maturation and their experiences; so, the discipline which is appropriate for one child may be ineffective for another. A teacher who is fair, firm, developed, sympathetic, knowledgeable, considerate and democratic is more likely to stimulate a happy learning environment than a cruel, indolent, ignorant, unfair, and unsympathetic teacher.
Teachers are repertoires of best practices. A good teacher should be able to provide learner with clear tasks and goals. A key skill in teaching is the ability to explain and describe things clearly. Teacher should encourage the learners to think, to practice and reinforce them to learn new skills.
Also, the following central professional values and personal commitments are skills which effective teachers should develop: effectiveness in promoting learning in the classroom; critical self-evaluation and development; collaboration and influence; educational and social values.
Teacher good preparation, certification, sound qualification, adequate classroom experience and enviable social values are other attributes of a good teacher.
Teacher dispositions also determine teaching effectiveness in the school. Creativity, resourcefulness and teacher flexibility enhance rate of learning in the school. Teachers who show enthusiasm for his professional area, demonstrate empathy and fairness gain learners' attention than those with negative attributes.
(1) Adewuyi J.O and Ogunwuyi A.O (2004) Basic text on teacher Education: Odumatt Press and Publishers.
(2) National policy on education (2004) edition- Federal Ministry of Education.
(3) Obanya P.A.I et al (1985) Theory and practice of education: Lagos , Basic Books Publishers.
(4) Farrant J.S (1999) principles and practice of Education: London , Longman publishers.
(5) Innovative Approach to teacher training (2003)- A training manual by Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme: Lagos , Stirling-Holden publishers.
(6) Adeyanju A et al (20004) school organization and classroom management: Oyo, Anikab publishers.
(7) Quadri K. et al (2004) school organization and class management: Theory and practice Oyo, Tobistic publishers.
(8) Dunhill J. (2000) A teacher Training Manual: London , Hodder and Stoughton .
(9) Oluokun O. and O.Olayanju (2000) An introduction to Principles and Methods of Teaching: Lagos , Sibis publishers.
(10) Bi-Annual Journal of the St. Andrew's College of Education vol 9 Nos 1-2, 1996.
(11) Adedeji A. (2007) Guide lines for effective teaching: Ondo, Adlinet publishers.
(12) What makes a good teacher? Accessed online at www.highlandschools-virtuelib.org.uk
(13) Key attributes of a good teacher