I believe a great teacher is someone who inspires learners to take their curiosities, transform them into objectives, and take actions that will benefit themselves and humanity.
Which makes me wonder if great teachers vary, depending on the student. Is it possible the some teachers simply click with some students? Maybe “greatness” depends more upon the relationship and personalities of the teacher and the students than anything else. On the other hand, I think we all recognize that some teachers are truly transformational leaders. Ever seen Stand and Deliver?
At the very least, greatness begins with dedication. A truly great teacher is dedicated to his or her students, putting their needs above state objectives and curriculum requirements. A great teacher finds a way to teach the material while making it relevant to his students’ lives. Great teachers don’t start their day at 8 am and end at 3 pm; great teachers are constantly, even subconsicously, thinking of ways to help their students. Great teachers — like Mr. Todd Kruger at Mayville High School — go above and beyond. (If you check out the link, go to pg. 4. Great teachers also rarely toot their own horns, preferring to work behind the scenes for their students’ success.)
Todd Kruger is the vocal music instructor at Mayville High School. He also leads a multitude of extracurricular musical groups, including Capella Choir, junior and senior high show choirs, Vocal Jazz and much, much more. His musical groups have performed throughout the country and won multiple awards; his students have gone on to careers in show business all over the world.
Yes, he teaches them music. More than that, though, he teaches them about life. Mr. Kruger spends hours with his students, both before, during and after school. He spends weekends traveling to competitions with “his kids” and often — often — works for no extra pay. The kids, meanwhile, learn confidence and dedication and teamwork.
Twenty years ago, Mr. Kruger was my teacher. Today, he directs Boy #1 in show choir and I couldn’t be more pleased.
More on great teachers tomorrow. Meanwhile, tell me about a great teacher in your life.