During the fourth letter of “Cartas a quien pretende enseñar” by Paulo Freire (2004) I really thought about some characteristics many of my most influent teachers have. Why? Because through this letter, Freire mentioned some qualities teachers who want to be better should have. Let’s not take this as a magic recipe! Instead, as a reflection of the qualities we have shown to our students. First of all, he talks about humility. I have worked in a community from Teziutlán, Puebla (located in Mexico) and I can say that many people from communities show a great humility. As teacher, and overall if you work in a community, you should consider what Freire mentioned “Nobody knows everything- nobody ignores everything” (2004, p. 60). As teacher you are your students’ light but we do not have to take this, and turn it into vanity. Trust me! If you show them vanity, they do not make you part of their communities. If you are humble, you win their confidence and that is the greatest gift you can receive, because you can know your students and their families so much better. You can listen, as Freire says, to anybody who looks for you without caring their intellectual level. I remember that the most significant teachers for me, where the ones who were always able to listen to me, the ones who did not pretend to be more than anyone.
Another important quality is lovingness. I consider your students feel when you love them, when you care about them. The people (included me) who love teaching, see this process of teaching and learning as a journey of different emotion, because of the good and difficult days. That lovingness is what makes you go forward.
Another quality is courage to face any obstacle. I know some days are harder, even worst to me when I feel my students are lost in certain topics. When you see bad notes, you have to find that courage that makes you grow and help your students. Another important quality is tolerance, and as Freire describes it, tolerance is a virtue. Now that I am in a classroom, I know why he calls it that way. It really is a virtue. You have to be open to live different situations, to live with different people, to respect their ideas, and that’s when tolerance plays an important role. If you are not tolerant, how your students are going to have confidence on you? We don’t want them to be afraid of us. But look! We should not confuse this term, and let our students do whatever they want in the classroom. In addition, being a better teacher also consider security. The security to take decisions in class. The better decisions are the ones which are meditated. During my short experience, I have seen that the best decisions in the school are the ones taken with your students. For example, the rules of the class. We took together the decisions of what was the best for our class (talking about the rules). Together we did our bylaw, now my students are conscious of the consequence of their acts; they know what they have to obey.
Following with these qualities, during the fifth letter Freire talks about the first day of classes (That first day when you are in front of a group of students), and why do I say following with qualities? Because he talks about the fear we face that first day, that fear we turn into courage. I remember how nervous I was when I looked at my students for the first time. But guess what? For me, each day with them, it is like the first, I am always nervous and exited to give my class. Why do I always feel that fear? I consider I feel it because I am afraid they do not learn what I teach them, I am afraid they do not see how important and significant what they are learning is. For this reason, every day I push me to do a better job. Maybe some days are difficult than others, some days I feel more fear but the most important is to never give up. So, do you have the necessary qualities to be a better teacher?