A teacher's teaching character must be authentic. Just as the ancient Greeks advised "Know thyself," so the first rule of teaching is "Be thyself." Teachers who are casual, informal, and gentle by nature should not present themselves to their students as rigid, disciplined, and severe; those who are naturally serious and laconic should not practice being light-hearted and loquacious. All teachers ought to accept their own natural traits and strive to make them work in the classroom for the benefit of their students. Perfection is not required of a teacher, but naturalness is.
1.Good teachers possess enough self-knowledge to develop and use those qualities of their personalities, both "good" and "bad," that work for them in different classrooms. Knowledge or technique ungrounded in character is of little effect with students; on the other hand, knowledge anchored to a teacher's irrepressible passion for a subject, or technique linked with personal experience, attracts and gives assurance to students.
2.What teachers bring to their classrooms from their own lives outside is an essential part of themselves that should not be kept from their students if it promotes learning.
1.Character must be consistent. Good humor, equanimity, and friendliness are qualities students expect of their teachers at all times. Demanding as that expectation may be, it is not unreasonable; students learn best when their teachers' bearing is stable and can therefore be taken for granted.
2.There is little room for greatly varying shifts of mood or for anger, disappointment, or despair. These emotions may well afflict the personal lives of teachers, but they must be left at the classroom door. They cannot help students, and they have no bearing on the subject matter of a course.This is not an invitation to hypocrisy, but it does necessitate a firm control of personality for the greater achievement of professional character. For teachers at least, some measure of stoicism is probably necessary.
Character means showing humanity by acknowledging lapses and errors. Authenticity and consistency of character ought not to imply faultlessness. They do, however, require honesty about those failures of knowledge and self that affect one's students.
Although confessions about a teacher's personal problems have no place in instruction, apologies for short-temperedness occasioned by those problems will regain students' trust and may instruct through exemplary action. Moreover, any errors in teachers' presentations discovered after the fact must be admitted and corrected as soon as possible. No teacher is capable of knowing all the ways to present materials, and none should be expected to be. Yet since conveying accurate knowledge is one of the chief aims of teaching, errors of fact or interpretation must be candidly confessed, better methods than those previously used ought to be presented, and the significance of both should be explained. Not only is learning thus promoted and honesty exemplified, but perhaps more important, teachers themselves can be seen struggling to overcome the natural difficulties of learning, and their students can thus grow in understanding.
Character requires sociability. Teachers must find a balance between overfamiliarity and icy detachment. They should not be their students' closest friends, but students need to feel that their teachers are approachable and interested in their lives as well as their learning. All teachers on occasion dismiss students too abruptly when they could have helped them by being more patient and attending to their questions and concerns with greater care; and some go too far toward the other extreme and become too familiar with those whom they are trying to teach, when they ought to keep back and encourage their students to grow free of their influence. Constant vigilance against these all-too-human tendencies is of the greatest importance for teachers. The best of them will be readily available sources of counsel to their students where matters related to instruction and study are concerned, and they will respond to students' requests for advice of a more personal nature by being neither too involved nor too aloof.
Character should mature with age. At all stages in their working lives, teachers should try to become, as teachers, the people they are. It is a mistake for teachers to cling to personalities that suited their early twenties when they are in their middle forties, even though the conscious inclination to retain a particular trait that worked twenty years before is understandable. Teachers ought to feel free to allow their changing selves to enter the classroom, rather than retaining characteristics that were their authentic selves at an earlier stage in their lives but which no longer are so. Teachers who impersonate themselves at earlier points in their careers invite ridicule.
Character should be distinct and individual. To describe human personalities, the ancient Greeks used the same term they used to describe the impression made on coins and seals to convey both identity and value. This numismatic image of character may be applied appropriately to teaching, where we require the authentic and shun the counterfeit. Teachers' impressions on their students should be deep and sharp if character is to have some "bite" to it. For this reason, teachers are often regarded by the world at large as somewhat eccentric; we hear it said that they are "real characters." This should be to their credit, even if meant as a slur. For with real character is likely to come real teaching. Teachers who create a distinct impression on their students are more likely to lead them to real learning.
1.All these considerations can be reduced to one principle: do not play the role of someone you are not. Let your own character evolve into the teacher that you are most suited to be. We all have characteristics of personality that would be better conquered or at least moderated, especially when we are with a class. Sarcasm, facetiousness, selfishness, and laziness are common enough in all of us, but such traits impede effective teaching. Therefore, such traits should be tempered- better, they should be suppressed-and a kind of purification process should occur as we step across the threshold from the corridor into the classroom.``2. The medieval custom of having teachers wear academic dress whenever they were lecturing or teaching probably helped our predecessors in this way; it was hard not to behave in a proper and professional manner when clothed in a long black robe. Certainly, this habit was a continual reminder of the seriousness of the task at hand. Even if teachers have now doffed that kind of garb, those who follow other lines of work-be they priests, rabbis, ministers, judges, doctors, or police officers-dress for their particular work and no doubt adjust their psyches as they put on their robes and uniforms. By comparison, today's teachers lack such conventional props; their preparation must therefore be exclusively internal and unseen. This requires a greater concentration of will than the donning of special dress. It also necessitates an understanding of what aspects of character contribute to good teaching.
But above all things, developing an appropriate teaching character requires teachers to work hard to distill from their own personalities and experiences those dimensions of self which will most enhance their students' ability to acquire knowledge. Each teacher's way of doing so will be distinctive; the outcome of each teacher's search for the person consistently to be in the classroom will be unique. But in every case that search must be conscious. To avoid that challenge is to risk defeating the whole purpose of teaching.