What Makes a Good Teacher?

What Makes a Good Teacher?

Louisa Hall

All education requires some amount of instruction from a teacher or skilled technician. Everyone can name a teacher they didn’t like or couldn’t stand, and they can most likely give a specific reason, too. If there’s a reason why some teachers are disliked, then there are also reasons why some teachers are well liked. The teaching style does have an impact, but the main factor in being well liked is the teacher’s personality.

  West Ottawa is very lucky to have a great group of people who come to school every day to teach. Not every single student is going to like every single teacher they have, and it’s very easy to overlook the good qualities once a dislikable quality is found, but WO seems to have some very favorable characteristics in teachers.


Top 10 characteristics of teachers at WO

  A recent survey of 91 WO students revealed what students like in a teacher. Out of a list of 20 different characteristics, these ten characteristics received the most votes, and are in descending order. 79 of the 91 people voted sense of humor as the number one best characteristic. Students also suggested teachers that they thought best embodied that personality trait.

  1. Sense of Humor


  Instructor Christopher Meyer is the orchestra teacher at the high school and at Macatawa Bay Middle School. A comment left by an orchestra student sums up why people recognized Meyer for having a great sense of humor. “After having the same teacher for 6 years, you’d think I’d be sick of him. Nah, he shows this characteristic by poking fun at us to an extent (he allows us to do the same to him to the same extent) before telling us how to improve in our music pieces,” said one senior orchestra member.


  1.   Understanding

  Instructor Doug Mandrick is a science teacher. He teaches geology, astronomy, and chemistry. A student mentioned on the survey that Mandrick was a good representation of being understanding because he is very understanding of his students and allows them to give their input in the class. Sr. Lani Gotthardt said, “He’s really flexible and understanding. Depending on the situation he will reason with you about homework. If you miss a question on a test you can argue it and get the point back. He’s really nice and caring, and goes above and beyond to help you out.”


  1.   Communication

  Instructor Kristen Bentley is an English teacher at South. Besides teaching, Bentley is a freelance writer for a Detroit Tigers blog called Motor City Bengals. Bentley was recognized by numerous students as a teacher with very good communication. Sr. MikayLa Singletary said, “She was always really clear about what was expected when it was expected. She kept it simple and direct, and she always got back to me quickly when I had questions. Especially when I was missing class because of my dual enrollment at Hope College.”


  1.   Patient

  Instructor Ann Kirkendall is very patient. As an English teacher who has four different classes: Odysseyware, AP Literature, Advanced Expository Writing, and English 1, she interacts with a variety of students from all grades. On the survey, a junior said, “There are some students in my hour who could easily set her off but she stays calm and has never lost her cool even if you could tell she’s frustrated.” Another student said, “Mrs. Kirkendall is very patient as she has been willing to work with me when I struggled with my writing.”


  1.   Respectful

  Instructor Pamela Pierson is the choir teacher and has been for more than a decade. Pierson embodies respect highly. Many of her students would agree that she doesn’t tolerate disrespect and treats every individual as an equal. “She makes sure that everyone feels welcomed and that we are doing are complete best at everything we do,”  Soph. Jaelan Williams said.


  1.   Encouraging

Instructor Jessica Vanhouten is one of the math teachers at North. Students recognized her as encouraging as she “gives us the opportunity to think for ourselves before telling us the answers. Also, whatever we are going through, she encourages us by positivity, smiles, attentive listening, shoulder pats, and words,” a sophomore said.


  1.   Engaging

  Instructor Mike Jaeger teaches science and is the instructor of AP Biology and IB Theory of Knowledge. Science can be a dry subject, so it’s reassuring to have a science teacher recognized as engaging. On the survey, a senior said “He tries to be very inclusive of his students and he’s always energetic and dedicated to his students. I remember when we were doing the herbarium, he was always offering opportunities where he could assist us in our project. There’s really never a dull moment in his class (especially in 3rd hour).”


  1.   Organized

  Instructor Ken Strobel is one of the English teachers located in South. He teaches AP Language, English 2 and Journalistic Writing. Strobel stays very organized with his three different classes. One of his students said:  “Mr. Strobel is the most organized of my teachers, as he will always have a plan of attack for any student falling significantly behind.” He tells the class what they can do to be the best they can be, and do the best that they can do.


  1.   Caring

  Instructor Paul McNitt teaches AP psychology in South and is the PALs instructor. Many students said on the survey that McNitt was very involved in students lives beyond class, “He makes a personal connection with each student. He is constantly asking about our lives and really cares about how we do and wants us to succeed,” said a junior. Another student said McNitt was caring because “[he’s always] asking about students’ days, and working with students, and also having fun in class.”


  1.   Creative

  Instructor Shanna Meyer is one of WO’s many math teachers; she teaches AP Calculus BC, Geometry, and some of the senior maths. Students said she best embodied creativity when she’s teaching. She comes up with fun ways to do activities to make learning more fun and class more enjoyable.”She does lots of interactive work with her students. She makes math very hands-on and entertaining,”  Sr. Randy Renteria said.


  The results were really interesting to look at; multiple teachers were listed under multiple characteristics. There was a large variety of teachers that students thought were the best example of these characteristics. WO seems to have a good mix of teachers that display the 10 characteristics the students voted on. And there were so many teachers recognized by students under characteristics that didn’t make the top 10. According to our student body, and based on these characteristics, our teachers are really good and we are very lucky to have such talented and hardworking people educating us.

Thank you, teachers, for doing what you do; your work is appreciated.