What does an ideal teacher do? How can we motivate more people to act as teachers for each other?

I am not sure if I can describe an ideal teacher but to get started I’ll try to at least point out some characteristics I believe great teachers should have.

For me, a good teacher is a great instructor and a great mentor. A great instructor is somebody who can communicate the material clearly, in a way that it makes sense. Furthermore, he or she also makes an effort to spike interest in learners by using various methods, for example, by demonstrating the relevance of the material in everyday life or posing perplexing questions. This aspect is particularly important for students who are starting out with learning something new. More specifically, at an early stage of the journey, one might not be aware of the relevance of the subject matter nor has he developed effective learning strategies that are suitable the subject. Thus, sufficient guidance is vital.

However, being a great instructor does not make one necessarily a great teachers; one also needs to serve as a great mentor. A great mentor approaches students individually and finds a way to challenge every student based on their capabilities and level of knowledge. In other words, a mentor gives a student time to construct his own knowledge and provides assistance and scaffolding only when it’s necessary.

However, a mentor and an instructor do not have to be the same person. For example, instructions can be delivered by the best experts in the field through video and audio channels, which is what online learning platforms are successfully doing already. However, personalized coaching and equipping a student with tasks that are challenging enough takes in-depth knowledge of the person and his capabilities. To what extent can this be achieved outside of classroom and without communicating with the student on a regular basis? One’s learning trajectory can be established by tracking learning activity online. That is a great starting point for a mentor. However, for a mentor to succeed, he needs to have the skills and motivation for that. We all have busy schedules and often times those who are best suited for mentoring cannot find time for that and those who aren’t can. Thus, an easy approach would be financial gain. For example, in additions to a cash payment, in the start-up world, mentors often get an equity stake in the company they are mentoring. Another option is to gamify the process by allowing mentors build their level of expertise every time they mentor people. This is something that companies could take into consideration while evaluating candidates for vacancies. Also, each mentoring session could take the mentor closer to some form of recognition (e.g. a teaching certificate). Furthermore, 2 people with complementing skills can mentor each other in their respective field of expertise. Additionally, mentor and mentee can form a project-based apprenticeship relationship where the mentor teacher the mentee something new while the mentee is helping the mentor out with something else that is in accordance of his skill level – it could be a TaskRabbit type of platform where the currency is mentoring not dollars.