UPAY Writing Contest – Runner Up 1

Theme: What makes a good teacher?

WhatsApp Image 2018-09-10 at 14.45.04

First Runner Up: Poorva Singhai

Think about something, a subject or any activity which you were taught as a child and still dread it today. The one thing which comes to my mind right now or any time for that matter is, MATHEMATICS. I guess most of you will be able to relate with me, here. Definitely, not flaunting, but I could never understand why I used to score well in all my subjects but not in math. It all became clear, the reason behind my poor scores in math, when I got hold of this amazing book called, “Outliers”, which I recommend everybody to read. “The problem with math education is the sink-or-swim approach. Everything is rapid fire, and the kids who get it first are the ones who are rewarded. So there comes to be a feeling that there are people who can do math and there are people who aren’t math people.” However, my math teacher did not understand this. She did not understand that learning is not a competition; she could not understand that some kids require an extended amount of time to understand a topic, and which gives them more time to sit and digest everything that’s going on—to review, to do things at a much slower pace. Kids can ask any questions they want and they can go back over material and not feel the time pressure. This makes the subject meaningful and the kids see a clear relationship between effort and reward. It is important for a teacher to understand how important it is for him/her, to give her students the sufficient amount of time to grasp the topic and not make learning a competition. Let me list down 5 qualities, which in my experience a great teacher should possess:

  1. A great teacher should think like a kid. If a teacher is giving out information in a complicated way then the kids are going to get bored. So you have got to make it in a fun way. We often see kids losing interest in the middle of a chapter/topic. A teacher should devise ways to come up with creative ways of thinking to engage a student’s attention and one of the ways is imitate their way of thinking. The kids want us to understand them, to know what is going on their head, and they want us to see the world inside them.
  2. A great teacher isn’t in the classroom. Think about a something which you learnt as a child and still remember it, till today. This reminds me of a subject, biology, which I loved, but was having a hard time learning a topic, the plant system. Our biology teacher, who happens to be a great inspiration in my life, took us to the ground garden. She plucked a small rose with its stem and roots intact and explained everything, from xylem-phloem to cross pollination. Big words? But I still remember them! Why? Because, it was not theory but a practical. A teacher needs to make that extra effort to make their students learn and not just simply mug. A student wants to know what we study or learn in class is actually applicable in the real world. This is something which makes them curious and know more about that subject.
  3. A good teacher loves to teach but a great teacher loves to learn. The reason this is significant is that, kids do not see their teachers learning, they see them teaching, but they wish they learn along with them. What if a teacher entered in a classroom and say, “I don’t know what we are going to learn today, but let’s find out together?” Or if the students saw their teacher struggling and eventually discovering the answer. Kids want to be inspired by the idea that learning is significant, but they don’t see it in school and hence it is important for a great teacher to demonstrate it to them.
  4. A great teacher understands that the kids have life outside the school. I am not sure if every one of you reading this has watched Hichki, a Rani Mukherjee film, or not. Where, this teacher (Rani’s character) is trying to civilize few slum children in school full of rich and privileged kids. The teacher did not judge them on their poor background rather went to each individual’s home to assess their behavior and understand their situation. This made her earn those kids confidence and made them realize that she is not there to ridicule them unlike the other teachers, but actually want them to learn. Thus, a great teacher notices when there is struggle; they don’t make assumptions about what a kid can or cannot do; they wait, watch, hear their students and protects them. They understand that there is life after school which is not same for all.
  5. A great teacher should have a good sense of humor. I know we have all had one teacher, whose class we used to always look forward to, no matter how tough the subject was and still remember him/her fondly yet today. Quality jokes or fun activities keep students engaged and helps teacher get through a tough or a boring topic. Students keep learning and listening intuitively in hope of hearing a good joke as a milestone in between the lecture and without realizing grasp that topic.


I would like to end this article by quoting these thought provoking lines by Malala Yousafzai- “One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world”

I hope to become that teacher some day 🙂







Published by UPAY - उपाय

UPAY ...An initiative to educate Under Privileged Children from Slums & Footpaths by a group of young Engineers, Doctors , Students and senior citizens

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