This is a widely discussed topic on weblogs. Because teaching is so complex (and therein lies part of its beauty), it is difficult to define. Some aspects are clear though.
You can certainly learn “techniques” to improve your teaching. For example: Doug Lemov, “Teach Like a Champion“. But this does not ensure that you will be a GREAT teacher.
And of course a good teacher should strive to master their subject knowledge and effective ways to teach it. I particularly like this quote from Larry Cuban in his post “Thought on Teaching“:
“Policy makers and teacher educators believe that when teachers understand deeply their subjects and possess a full repertoire of teaching skills students will learn more, do better on tests, and eventually get good jobs”.
Teaching is very multi-dimensional, and I think that “The 10 Qualities of Good Teachers” published by Peter Beidler in 1997, explains many of these dimensions. Good teachers:
1. have the desire to be a good teacher
2. take risks
3. have a positive attitude
4. never have enough time and never finish their work
5. think of teaching as a form of parenting
6. give their students confidence
7. keep their students off balance
8. motivate students by working within their own incentive system
9. don’t trust student evaluations of your teaching
10. listen to students
So can teachers become GREAT TEACHERS? Well with the above guidelines, we can certainly improve and at least become very good teachers! Perhaps even as good as Goofy?