What makes a good teacher great? | Azul Terronez | TEDxSantoDomingo

Translator: Kesmat El Deeb
Reviewer: Riaki Poništ I’m obsessed with the question: “What makes a good teacher great?” I’ve collected 26,000 responses
to this question, in eight different schools, from the poorest schools in Los Angeles, to suburban schools in Texas,
to elite private schools abroad. And after 24 years of teaching students, I’m still perplexed by this question. Today, I’m going to teach you the lessons I learned
from those thousands of students, and learn what I found out from them
if we just listen to students. The thing about it is that during my time
of asking kids this question, I realized that we don’t ask this question
for a particular reason: schools are afraid. Based on fear, they don’t really
want to know what kids think. Partially because they don’t think
kids will take it serious. I’m going to share with you
one of the most profound quotes, answers to this question
that I’ve ever received. [A great teacher eats apples] (Laughter) Now, I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t this prove my point? “Great teachers eat apples.” When I first saw this,
I dismissed it as silliness, but it appeared again and again. So I thought, “There’s got to be something to this,
but what are they trying to tell me?” So one day, I decided
I would start eating apples. I ate them in the morning, at lunch,
during class, in the hall. Kids began to give me apples. The’d see me eating them
and say, “You’re eating an apple!” “I know!” They would smile, and I would smile back. It wasn’t until I understood
that kids wanted to see me as somebody who is willing
to receive a gift from them, that the apple was a symbol
for our relationship. There was goodness in that, and trust. But for a long time, I wasn’t listening
and I hadn’t understood this. [A great teacher is chill] They have their own language. When they say, “A great teacher is chill,” what they really mean is:
“Don’t take it too serious. Be calm in all situations.
Don’t get overwhelmed.” (Laughter) They have a way of speaking to us
about what they really want to tell us, but we have to listen. Right? I’m the father of two grown kids. They’re out of school now and in college. But when they were at home
and they were teenagers, I had to learn a whole new language. When they would come home
from school, I might ask them: “How was your day?”
and they would say, “Fine,” which usually meant:
“It was not bad. It was pretty good. Nothing happened eventful. I probably learned something.
Maybe I didn’t.” But if they came home
and said, “Fine,” what they meant was: “It wasn’t really great, but don’t ask me,
because you wouldn’t understand anyways.” If I asked them how their day was
and they said “OK,” what they were trying to tell me was:
“It wasn’t good at at all, and you should probably
ask me more questions, but don’t expect me to answer.” (Laughter) Kids have their own language;
they have their own way of thinking. They want us to think like them and understand
what’s inside of their head. They have so many ways
of thinking that things are great. They want us to see
their world inside of them. But they don’t want us to act like them; they want us to be calm
and protect them and keep them safe. Kids have a way of communicating, and adults just haven’t spent
the time listening. But what if we did? What if we really listen
deeply to students? One of the things I noticed after all the years
of collecting these responses is that there is patterns that emerge. When I asked the question
of what makes a good teacher great, oftentimes I heard,
“A great teacher loves to teach.” 70 percent of the time, the quote
or the answer that followed was: “A great teacher loves to learn.” The reason this is significant
is they don’t see this happening. They don’t see teachers
learning in front of them. They see them teaching, but they wish they would learn
along with them. Think about it. Principals hire teachers
to be content experts, to have all of the knowledge,
not to be learners. But what if they did? What if you showed up in the classroom,
and the teacher had something prepared, said, “I don’t know exactly
what we’re going to do today, but I can’t wait to learn with you.” Or that they saw their teacher struggle through something
they didn’t actually know and then eventually discover the answer. Kids want to be inspired by this idea
that learning is important. But they don’t see it in schools. [A great teacher isn’t a teacher] When I saw this quote:
“A great teacher isn’t a teacher,” I actually was a little bit offended. “What do you mean?! I’m a teacher!” They’re like, “We know.” What they were trying to tell me is: a great teacher isn’t in the classroom. Think about it. Think about a time that you have
some enduring understanding, a time when you learned something that you still remember
and you use to this day, like throwing a baseball or riding a bike. I remember learning
to ride a bike from my mom when I was five years old. She took off the training
wheels of my bike, she got behind me, and began to push. And we ran, and we ran, until she finally let go,
and I began to ride a bike. That’s what I did;
that’s how I learned to ride a bike. I can still ride a bike to this day
from that moment. But can you imagine if I tried to learn
to bike from my mom in a classroom, what it would look like? [Copy this
Bike riding 101] (Laughter) “Son, first, you need to learn
all the parts of a bike. There’s the pedals and the crank,
and there’s a chain that turns the wheel. You have to have a significant force; once the force has enough momentum,
you can keep your balance. That’s how a bike works. I want you to learn all the parts,
be able to label them and draw them. Then you’re going to learn
and write a research paper about the history of bike riding. (Laughter) All the important elements,
the adventure, the development of bikes. And at the end of that,
you’re going to take a final examination. If you pass and get an A,
you can ride a bike. (laughter) At five years old,
I think I would’ve said, “Never mind, I’ll just walk.” (Laughter) This is exactly what we do to children. We put them in a classroom and tell them, “This is what I want you to learn.
It’s important. Do it.” And kids know that it’s not true, that we don’t really value
learning this way. So no wonder they’re disruptive,
or bored, or disengaged. Kids want us to be teachers
that aren’t teachers. I want to tell you a story about Yvette. “A great teacher understands
that they have a life outside of school.” They really do. They want us to know
that their life in school is way more different
than the life outside of school. I just thought, “Well,
how hard is your life? Your job is to do school;
my job is to teach.” Yvette was a tough student, She was feisty, and she had
an infamous reputation. She walked around
with a jacket to prove it. Whenever she walked around,
the kids would follow. She would come in and sit
in the front row and lean just so that she can have
eye contact to intimidate me. She would call me “mister”
and not even use my full name. When she’d get up to go to the bathroom,
all the girls would follow. Eventually, I learnt from Yvette
what she needed to learn. And I thought I became
pretty good at what I was doing. I noticed one day, she stopped
turning in her homework. She had become a great leader
in the classroom: she turned in her homework,
she participated in class; she actually was quite good. So when this happened,
I was surprised. So I went up to her and said,
“Yvette, I’m very disappointed in you.” She said, “I know mister; I’m sorry.” “I expect it turned in tomorrow.” Tomorrow came, and just a few sheets
of unfinished work were turned in. I also went up to her and said,
“Yvette, this is disappointing.” She said, “I normally do
my homework in the bathroom because it’s the quietest
place in my house, but this week the electricity
was turned off, and it’s dark in there. I had a candle, but it burned out. And I’m sorry.” She gazed down, not her prideful self. I had missed the point. I had not listened when she said,
“I’m trying, mister.” I heard the words, but I didn’t listen. Great teachers notice
when there’s a struggle. They don’t make assumptions
about what kids can and cannot do. They wait and watch,
and they rescue them when they’re stuck. Good teachers hear them,
but they don’t listen. I’ll never forget Yvette,
and I’m grateful because whenever I see
an answer of a student like that, I remember her, and I listen. [A great teacher sings] This was the most perplexing answer
I think I ever received. It happened every year for ten years;
at least one student would put this. “A great teacher sings.” What are they talking about? I can’t sing. So I started thinking,
“Wait a second. What do they mean?” It wasn’t until Danny turned it in
as one of his responses. He was the class clown. You know he was the one
that when we took the class picture, he put ear fingers behind your head. He would make faces
at me during lectures so I would laugh. Everything was a joke to Danny. So, when he turned in his responses, and they were all serious
and actually really good, I was surprised when this
showed up in the middle. But I knew there was something to it;
I just didn’t know what. So the next day,
I put the agenda on the board, listing all the activities of the day,
the expectations, and the homework. And instead of actually reading them,
very seriously, I sang, (Laughter) in an operatic style, big as I could. The eyes of the students were wide,
their mouths dropped. (Laughter) But you know what happened
at the end of that? I expected pointing and laughing. But the classroom erupted
in cheers and applause. There was a standing ovation. I could not believe it. At the end of class, they walked out,
gave me high fives and handshakes, and here came Danny. He walked in, and he leaned in,
and patted me on the shoulder, and said, “I told you a great teacher sings.” (Laughter) (Applause) Great teachers make themselves
humble before their students. They take risks. They put aside their fear to try. They trust that they are going
to be supported if they fail. But they don’t see this;
they see experts, remember? Content experts. What if we hire teachers not to be deep understanders
of content, knowledge keepers, but deep understanders of students? How our schools
would change and transform? But it’s no wonder students don’t care
or that teachers don’t really listen. Because they have never been taught. But what if we did listen? You see, we spend three years
of a student’s life, teaching students to read. About 12 years of those students’ lives,
teaching them to write. Maybe if they’re lucky,
they get a semester or half a year learning to public speak. But they get virtual zero years
of formal listening instruction. Zero. Think about it. When was the last time
you were at a dinner party, and someone asked a question:
“So what do you do for a living?” and the response was,
“Oh, I’m a listening teacher. I teach advanced listening
at the high school events, listening communications,
or beginning listener for elementary?” We don’t hear this. Because we just don’t believe
that in schools it’s important, though in the world, listening is one of the number one skills
essential for business and life. And we just don’t teach it. We need to listen to our students. In our classrooms are the future. The Maya Angelous, the Mother Theresas,
the Elon Musks of the world. And can you imagine if we took the time to ask those students,
“What would make a good teacher great?” and then we actually listened, we could transform schools and education. Thank you. (Applause)

100 Replies to “What makes a good teacher great? | Azul Terronez | TEDxSantoDomingo”

  1. personally feel that a teacher's inspiration and passion is an important driving factor and how engage the students are and I started a podcast about it

  2. one of the beest ted talks i have ever heard,this is surely going to make me a better teacher….because from now i shall be listening more to their anger,frustaation,disagreement and crticism

  3. I am in grade 7 and for me a great teacher is someone who pays attention in class. We students are much familiar with the phrase "PAY ATTENTION TO THE TEACHER" or "PAY ATTENTION IN CLASS" but a teacher should also be a person to pay attention in class, by this I don't mean that he has to keep his phone turned off at all times but it is that he has to ensure the student's learning, make a relationship with them which should be no more than a teacher-student relationship and not to make school a nightmare for them that they want to end it at any time.

  4. If I was a high school teacher I might tell them this secret. Your academic success is only a small part of life. Sure if you're smart enough you can go on and be a doctor or lawyer. But if you don't have other qualities that are more important like compassion and pragmatic skill, you will fail. So my job as a teacher is to help you with your academic success but not obsess over it. Im here to help you with being a better person, a decent human being with integrity. Im here to help you think outside the square sometimes. Im here to help you problem solve. To use your brain in different ways. To teach you not to give up easily. To learn how to stand up for yourself, assert yourself but also compromise with others. Im here to help you learn how to accept yourself and others.

  5. Mr.Terronez
    You were right about singing because I am a teacher and when I start singing my first grade students smile and look happily at me. They try to sing after me

  6. Wow. great presentation on what makes a good teacher. I like the aspect great teachers chill. Need to take it easy.

  7. I am a seventh grader. One day my class was writing poems. My classmate wrote one that compared school to a jail. He said that the teachers were like officers and the set schedules were like jail schedules. But I do not agree. Teachers can bring many opportunities to students. I believe that a great teacher appreciates the students abilities. I also believe that students should appreciate their teachers. but we aren't taught to appreciate our teachers like we appreciate our Presidents, persay. Maybe if we were taught to appreciate our teachers almost like presidents, we ,as students, can learn to understand teachers better since the presidents learned everything from some sort of a teacher.

  8. I love everything you said, l wish l could just put my ego aside and try to listen when they misbehave , that it has nothing to do with Me, its them trying to tell me something!

  9. honestly i'm not over reacting when i say that listening to some teachers can feel like straight up bullying and they just make you feel bad about yourself and like a disappointment or something like that

  10. Why I didn't have such great teachers like you!!! Thanks!!! I even cried listening to you! God bless you!!!

  11. I am a prospective student teacher in the Caribbean….this is very informative and a great starting point for me personally…..thank you

  12. I love teachers, i look up to them a lot. True passion for teaching is the thing that makes a teacher great. Atleast in my opinion. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. My answer: being able to listen to students, shoe them respect, and teach and write for them to understand what is taught for them to learn.

  14. The behavior of the teacher influences the child. That's why adults are bad to students, to UN influence child the behavior to be bad, and that's why those bad teacher's are removed, Latina.

  15. I have about 1year and a half before I become a teacher. My desire is to gain as much knowledge and skills to be the best that I can be. This video is very helpful, thank you!

  16. What is very strange for this one it better if youhad problem to understand something and much more accidents about it

  17. My orchestra teacher is great! She gives us food if weโ€™re good with a substitute against the other periods >:D))
    Also she understands vines and the latest memes

  18. A good lecture. I hope all teachers in my country watch it.

  19. The students 'make๐Ÿ’– ' the teacher at the end of the day – you don't just have students' learn, attend, behave…etc – some of my best teachers made me aspire, confide, challenge and imagine and one of the worst made me stretch myself so much more than I thought possible. Much of life is confidence and even with the worst grades, most nervous disposition, great things can be done in the average classroom when a mind is open and receptive. Competence and class still remain as essential 'old school' values but students enjoy interesting, fair and kind people to listen to and be listened by. A big thank you to all the refugee and asylum seekers that take my classes in Glasgow – beautiful people, human but v excellent!

  20. I wonder if there is any hint on how to teach English to elementary students at a poor public school which neither offers proper books nor infrastructure. Furthermore, it also does not offer a good support to its English teachers to improve themselves.
    We are not supposed to teach the students on how to write ( the principal says it could disturb them on learning how to write their mother tongue language)
    We only need to guarantee that all the 33 students who attend the classes speak some English.
    I do not like the idea of only teaching them some vocabulary through flashcards. I wish I could prepare them to speak effectively English and they leave that school.

  21. This teacher cannot teach in school that oriented to grades so much. Some schools do not care whats going on with students at home or their struggles at home. You need to know if education is already part of the business, the values of education will deplete. School cultures will determine how teachers can work with students. Unless the teachers will make a big change in the school system.

  22. Wait still you hear your students say; teacher , you're human don't worry. we all make mistakes then you'll know the satisfaction behind this wonderful profession. Learning with them is my bullet.

  23. In junior high school I had the luck to met a great teacher and, above all, a great person. Words are just too poor to describe him completely. I'm very grateful and lucky that I met him cause he's a rare person. And the irony is that his surname means, with a small change in it, "rare" in greek. God bless him.

  24. I respect what he is saying and he is right. HOWEVER he/we should drop the labels. He wasn't just talking about kids…he was talking about PEOPLE/EVERYBODY.

  25. I got like 8 sections a class size of 40 as maximum, I badly want to listen to them but I can only do few but I'm trying.

  26. No such thing as a wrong answer – Its ok not to be ok – – – primary children are little people – – every day should be fun –

  27. Just make mistakes in front of them (not on purpose). Turn around and say, I made a mistake. What is it?

    After that, you say:

    "My goal is to make you smarter than myself. I have knowledge to share, I have learnt in my life that many people are always learning and and many are always never listening. You get to choose. Best part, you listen and research to see if it is real. Maybe I am lying to you about. Speak of which, have you heard of the Octopus Tree. The animal is incredible."

    or say something like that, and those who are listening will likely question "Octopus Tree".

    I know this is over looked, but Astrology (if I may say) can really help to understand a person's cognitive thinking skills.


    People born as Pisces may be a lil distracted by imagination and or boredom if it is not interesting for them (Feb/March)

    People born as a Capricorn may take things seriously and progress much faster than others (December/January)

  28. i had 20 students in my class and 15 of them got above 80 percent,i learned to say to the students love youre teacher you pass

  29. What a great speech! Students learn better from teachers who understand how they learn not the ones who teach them how he wants to teach them.

  30. Thank you ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

  31. I agree that we need to teach listening to our students. Even adults need a refresher course. We cannot connect with others if we don't take the time to listen first. Great talk!

  32. I've always wanted to be a teacher .
    Now I know how difficult it is.
    But also how great any teacher around the world is .๐Ÿ’“๐Ÿ’“
    All love, respect, and appreciation for all teachers around the world.๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒธ

  33. My tips from thinking about my favourite teachers:
    1) be funny. Don't try to be funny with jokes, just be funny.
    2) Be reasonable. Relate to issues and also don't be too sympathetic.
    3) Be strict BUT always be casual. If teachers aren't strict and can't control their classes, I never misbehave or mess around a bit because it's adding to the issue. With teachers who are strict but casual, I mess around a bit and sometimes are a little bit cheeky, because I know the teacher has no issue dealing with it and is fine with it.
    4) Know the subject, not just for teaching but know it properly. A good example of this is my physics teacher, who loves physics, the universe and the history of physics. That's one of the reasons he's my favourite teacher.

  34. I flopped school I had so much anxiety.. I really did try . I rang my old teacher last week. He said he's very sorry for how he treated me. He used too scare me a bit ( smashing my table with his first) and alot of the teachers would pick on me. I broke down because I really did try and just felt so worthless. I think they felt a bit bad . I feel bad for not being greatful but my high chool years where the worst of my life. I really wanted too succeed. He offered too help me get on a course but I said it was a bit late for that I'm 23 now. I didn't really speak for a year after bunking off school. I was so anxious . It took me a while too recover. I find it hard too go into building s that even look like school he said he thought I was very vocal and difficult. ๐Ÿ˜ฉ But he thought I was bright. I thought they all hated me to be honest. It hurt me because I was having a very difficult home life. Walking eight miles a day to get to and back from school. I got bullied alot. I'm not weak in general and can stick up for myself. But I didn't too try too get my education. But they weren't pleased . I gave up I really feel humiliated that they put me through that. They said that I wasn't allowed too fight so I just let people hit me . And when I did fight back they told me I killed the person when I didn't . Trying too guilt trip me I suppose. It was three girls against me and I won. So they couldn't have that.. I was broken. Really . ๐Ÿ˜ซ

  35. this is so beautiful and enlightening! I can relate to each and every sentence since childhood to becoming a teacher myself, all the exeperiences I had were collected and recalled. Thanx for this.

  36. thats true sir. understanding the teacher situation is need to handle. because how can a student develop and discover her potentials to be someone if a teacher dont want her student to be motivated. we have to be sensitive in our words

  37. What makes a good teacher great is to be able to do voices of famous people and video game characters

  38. As a teacher for a decade… I realized that the more that i "undress" myself before the eyes of my students and the more that they see that i am human as they are…the more that i can relate to them, gain their respect and teach them better. It's not just about the content but more of relationship that makes a teacher truly great.

  39. Sir I hv started teaching in a school..and I am unable to handle notorious students..when I enter In 2nd class.. students starts making noise for which I hv been scolded..sir please help me out

  40. In my view, an outstanding teacher is:
    1) Expert in her/his subject(s) and well prepared every time
    2) Knowledgeable
    3) A great public speaker
    4) Inspiring, a relentless motivator
    5) A team player, as regardless of the subject this is a very valuable skill for all to have
    6) Optimistic
    7) Youthful, regardless of age
    8) Humorous, enjoys entertaining
    9) Empathic, sincerely cares about each of her/his students (and families)
    10) Non judgemental
    11) Disciplined
    12) Firm
    13) Highly principled, a role model for students

  41. A good teacher uses their smile muscles and smile when they Enter their Classroom . Smiling is like watering a plant in the middle of a desert ๐ŸŒต

  42. Great teacher need to be loved by student. No children want to learn from people they donโ€™t love.

  43. For me, a great teacher is someone who teach holistically. A teacher who educates not only the mind but more importantly, the heart๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’™

  44. I'm 49 years old and I'm challenging myself to become a teacher, I don't even have a high school diploma, I'm not even a native English speaker, but i have something that keeps me going to get my Tefl certified and that's is love for learning not teaching .
    Confused?? I waked into a classroom in a learning center and I asked the director of the center, excuse me, I speak decent English and i would love to be an observer at your class ,then she saw me like , mmm you have accent but I see you want to learn and teach , after one month of observing she send me to an volunteer orientation, i passed the two hours mini course, now. I'm going for me second semester as assistant in this learning center.
    I'am three quarters of the Tefl course , almost ready to become an English teacher.

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