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An X-ray of an Exceptional Teacher

When I was little and they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, becoming a teacher was never my first choice. But today, 5 th October, on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day, I would like to recall why, at a certain point in my life, I made this choice. It goes without saying that all stories involving a vocation usually have a
common ingredient: a teacher. How often have we learnt to love a subject because the teacher that taught it exuded passion and stirred up our desire to take it further?

What is the difference between a good teacher and an exceptional teacher? Extraordinary teachers are able to press a button that awakens a vocation in their students – the interest and the desire to learn more. This type of teachers prepare their classes with a special formula – a winning recipe that satisfies the intrinsic needs of their students. But what are the intangible ingredients that make these teachers shine? Here are 8 characteristics that I think make them unique:

  • LOVE. They love what they do: teaching.
  • PASSION. They are passionate about the subject they teach, so much so that sometimes it seems like they have turned their hobby into their job.
  • RESPECT. They take their work very seriously, and in doing so they show great respect for their students.
  • FAITH. They have a strong belief in their students.
  • LACK OF PREJUDICE. They are not influenced by what other people think about their pupils. They always start from scratch and form an opinion based on their own experience.
  • GENEROSITY. They go beyond what is expected of them (beyond the class hours they were hired and are paid for).
  • RESPONSIBILITY. They are aware of the impact of their words and attitudes.

I have to confess that I belong to the group of students touched by the magic wand of an extraordinary teacher. In my case it was the English teacher at the school where my parents enrolled me: Elsa. What enthusiasm! She could not do enough for us. She wanted to make us feel special, she loved us and made us see that our success was her own. She introduced all class activities as if she were a chef explaining how she had prepared the most revolutionary dish on the menu. She was patience and humility personified. If she did not know the answer to a question, she admitted it and looked it up.

There is an age at which you desperately search for what it is you can contribute to the world. In my case, Elsa made me feel that I was special and unique in her eyes, and I think that this authenticity that we all have is the most valuable thing that we can give. In my work, like so many other teachers, I aspire to help exert a transforming power: that of education. Obviously these characteristics not only contribute to the creation of extraordinary teachers, but also, turn any good professional into an exceptional one. The love for what you do makes you feel alive, it is contagious and creates a wave of passion that touches those around you. My advice? Love what you do, do what you love, and above all, whatever you do, be happy.

What about you? Have you ever had an extraordinary teacher? Let me know!

To all the teachers: thank you!

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