I was told in my earlier years that a teacher is one who imparts knowledge. If that definition is accurate, then all of us as human beings qualify as teachers. In fact, we all impart knowledge at one point or another in our lives. However, a professional teacher is one who is trained and assigned the job to impart knowledge in exchange for an income (my definition). I believe anyone who has chosen the profession to teach has an outstanding responsibility, regardless of the age group chosen to teach. There are indeed certain characteristics of a teacher which make them stand out from any other profession.
A teacher has to have good character. It does not matter what subject or what age group is being taught. The teacher has to be exemplary in every way. I remember when I had orientation for my last teaching assignment. One of the instructors informed us that we are teachers 24/7. Meaning that our character never takes a vacation. We are always required to be a good example, because we never know who is watching and noticing everything we say and do outside the classroom. Those words are so true. I have had various people greet me from time to time. They said I used to teach them, but I do not recall. I just have to be careful that I do not say or do anything that is out of character at any time to lead any child astray.
In connection with good character, a teacher has to have good manners. The attitude do as I say and not as I do does not work well for teachers. The words have to match the actions or teaching is in vain. The students will not hear a word, or learn a thing if there is conflict with actions and words. In any case, students respond favorably to kindness and courtesy. They are likely to pattern that behavior if they see it in operation. It is therefore wise to always show good manners.
One of the most important qualities of a teacher is to ensure accuracy. One of the worst things a teacher could ever do is to pass on information that is erroneous. We really cannot unteach (yes, I know it is not a word) what we have taught. It is therefore important for teachers to indulge in extensive and intensive research prior to writing a plan and choosing the content. This part of the preparation for the lesson can become the most tedious part of teaching. However, if the teacher attempts to get the information for personal reasons as well it can be enjoyable.
A teacher is a leader in many ways. He or she has to set the example in preparing for the lesson thoroughly before attempting to impart knowledge. Students can know how much preparation is done prior to the lesson. They are not easily fooled. If the lesson is thoroughly prepared it is easier to get their participation.
Patience is a virtue it has been said repeatedly. Patience is also one of the requirements to teach. Every student does not have the same capability. It is very easy to get frustrated with the students who are not focused and those who constantly distract the lesson. In addition, it is important to take the time to help those who are struggling to understand a particular aspect of the lesson. A good teacher will not neglect the slower students in the classroom, but would rather find creative ways to help them understand the content. If anyone who is seeking to teach does not have patience they are being advised to choose another profession.
A teacher has to be one who is trustworthy. The students, parents and the institution have entrusted teachers to impart knowledge. It is the teacher's responsibility to teach with sincerity and integrity. Every effort should be made by the teacher to ensure that the trust is not compromised in any way. This is extremely important especially in these days where students need to be protected from people whose intention is to rob them of their innocence.