FEATURE — January 30, 2020 at 10:51 am

Students share what they value most in a teacher

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An MSD Student expresses interest while teacher uses engaging lessons to captivate the class. Photo by Bryan Nguyen.

In modern-day society, teachers are one of the most commonly criticized and underappreciated groups of people. Overwhelmed with skepticism about the quality of class materials they will receive and the grades their students will acquire, these individuals are constantly berated with criticism and notes of their wrongdoings.

That being said, what can teachers do to be liked? Or in other words, what do students find makes a good teacher?

Given the results of a recent survey of 100 MSD seniors, it seems that the top factors that sway a student towards a favorable impression of a teacher are how kind and funny they are along with how informative, interesting and easy their class proves to be.

The results of the survey revealed that 48% of pollees agree that the most influential factor for leading a successful class is that a teacher is funny. Due to this large percentage of students polled who agree, it is evident that being funny is an important characteristic for teachers to have when attempting to captivate their students. Capturing students’ attention through humor often results in a more engaged, and in turn successful, students.

“Keeping class light-hearted and alleviating stress by keeping the mood up is really important to fostering a good learning environment. I know there are a lot of times where I’m too stressed to focus and then one of my teachers cracks a joke and suddenly I’m awake and ready to try to focus,” senior Sam Hendler said.

After four years in high school, most seniors have a pretty good idea of what a commanding teacher who can push students to success looks like. Trends over time have lead almost half of the seniors interviewed to agree that, yes, being funny can really help students enjoy a class and commit to working hard and being successful.

This opinion holds true with students of all ages, even freshmen.

“Even though I’ve only been at Douglas for a semester, I can already tell you that my favorite teachers, and the ones I’m willing to work the hardest for, are the ones that have a fun way of teaching. Jokes and stories to make kids laugh within the subject not only make it more enjoyable but also helps to remember what we are learning,” freshman Katie DeGregorio said.

It’s really easy to interview seniors and get their opinions about high school teachers because they have a great expanse of past teachers to look back on. Freshmen, however, have not had the same opportunity to experience having as many different teachers, for this reason, it’s powerful to receive testimony from underclassmen that agree with seniors about teachers’ most important qualities. 

The quality that received the second highest percentage of votes was the kindness of the given teacher, coming in at 29%. Similar to being funny, being kind causes students to enjoy their courses much more and feel more comfortable in their learning environment.

“The teachers that are the nicest to me definitely help me through the learning process and make my life, as well as my classmates, a lot more enjoyable. Teachers also stick out for being mean and not understanding, those are the ones I really don’t like,” junior Josh Buchwald said.

Being kind may not be the most prominent quality students value, but is definitely proven to be a crucial factor in whether they decide to resent the teacher or not.

Even though the teacher may not aim to come off as mean or curt, negative attitudes can have large impacts on the feelings of students. When teachers are not understanding of their students, kids often become disinterested and make the teachers’ job a lot more difficult.

This is where it may be truly beneficial for teachers to listen to their students’ opinions, even if they may not love them.

“I really don’t like coming to school, but if all my teachers were like the nice and funny ones, I definitely could see myself being more motivated and try to learn more,” sophomore Eric Hengber said.

There’s a lot of factors that teachers cannot control, namely who they get in their classes, and personal factors in their students’ lives.What they can control is if they are going to choose to take the step to be a happy and enjoyable role model in their students’ lives. While it may require some veteran teachers to go outside of their comfort zones, they may very well see an uptick in the results they care so much about: standardized exam scores, class test averages and pass rates.

Many believe that if teachers acknowledge what students like and dislike the most, they can find more appreciation and joy in teaching. By teachers listening to student feedback and trying their best to be funny and kind within the classroom, the entire campus would have the potential of becoming a happier and more respectful environment.

Charlie Goodman

Charlie Goodman is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He is a staff writer for the Eagle Eye and is currently covering sports, and more specifically, Varsity Football. Charlie also participates in DECA, is a Key Club Officer, and serves on the Gold Coast Regional Board for BBYO. He wants to pursue Psychology or Humanities in the future.

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