Instructor? Inspirer? Counselor? Role model? What exactly makes a good teacher? For that matter, what makes a bad one? We asked the experts – high school students – and their opinions ranged far and wide.

Some members of our panel are Reporter Newspapers interns, who took part in a group discussion of the question at our offices. Others are members of Youth Leadership Sandy Springs, who answered the question individually. Still other students submitted answers by email. Here’s what they had to say.

I think the best teachers are the ones that relate to you, the ones that understand we have other things going on, and are approachable.
Andrew Agrippina
Holy Spirit Preparatory School
I guess a good teacher is someone who is willing to help you with anything you need, and take her time.
Halle Ewing
Riverwood International Charter High School
[A good teacher is] a teacher that uses all the resources she has to interact with students in a fun and positive way.
Asher Berman
Riverwood International Charter School
[Good teachers are] the ones that will go more into depth, not just read from a PowerPoint. They like what they teach.
Christian Burke
Mount Vernon Presbyterian School
What makes a great teacher cannot simply be defined by the magnitude of his/her degree, nor the university he/she attended, not even the personal connection with students. To be a great teacher requires a mix of forthright honesty and unwavering ethical principles. This blend leads to endless positive results. Honesty is the glue that cements the connection between teacher and student by inviting discussion of successes and failures in and out of the classroom. Meanwhile, ethical principles create and strengthen respect for a teacher, inspiring others to become ethical decision makers as well.
Dan Summe
Mount Vernon Presbyterian School
A good teacher is a person who goes out of his or her way to show how much he or she cares about students and their learning. A good teacher makes sure that no student falls through the cracks. This teacher can make even the most mundane topics interesting and relevant. S/he talks with the students, not at them. In the end, a sure mark of a good teacher is that he or she can admit at the end of the day to have learned something from the students.
David Bernstein
The Galloway School
Being fun and not so strict.
Lexi Lobel
Woodward Academy
A good teacher would be someone who deeply cares about the subject and does everything in students’ best interest.
Bill Lampe
Mount Vernon
Presbyterian School
I hate it when teachers turn off the lights to give PowerPoint presentations. It’s like saying, ‘Go to sleep.’ What I like is a teacher who keeps your focus the whole time.
Shelby Eggers
Marist School
The worst teachers I’ve had are the ones who just lecture. I’ve had teachers who lecture a lot, but they have humor about it. It’s hard to be a teacher. There are students who just sleep in class.
Felipa Schmidt
Atlanta International School
I enjoy class when teachers are enthusiastic about what they are teaching and have a passion for what they are explaining. It really makes it more interesting to learn and makes me much more curious about the subject.
Stacy Bubes
Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School
With major budget cuts in school systems around the state (especially in Atlanta Public Schools), it has become rather challenging to find a “good” teacher in the classroom. A good teacher is someone who is in love with his or her job and comes to work every day extremely excited about teaching and engaging with students. Too often I hear teachers complaining about their jobs and how much they wish they could be doing something else, and this is a terrible environment for students to be in. We are at school to learn practical skills that will help us in life, not how to complain. All in all, if teachers are excited about their jobs and they engage without complaint, I consider them good, maybe even great, teachers.
Jackson Echols
North Atlanta High
There are a few hallmarks of a good teacher. I would argue that the most important is adaptability. A good teacher must be able to cater to each student and be open to trying different teaching methods that work for different genres of students. A static teacher has a tendency to ignore the fledgling students for fear of prospective work or lack of success. However, the excellent teacher puts in the work in order to inculcate the necessary knowledge in all of his or her students.
Jack Bowen
Pace Academy
Teachers should make lessons exciting. My U.S. History teacher would end each class in a cliffhanger and we’d have to come back the following day to see what happened next. The way he taught was so engaging it made you want to learn.
Mikayla Farr
Riverwood International Charter High School
My AP U.S. History teacher teaches history like it’s a story. It’s his storytelling that really captures you. It’s about being passionate.
Elizabeth Wilkes
North Springs Charter High School