Everyone has different opinions on what makes a good teacher, especially if you are a parent, student, or thinking of becoming one.
But what really makes a good teacher? What qualities do they possess? And how can one become a better educator?
According to experts, here are key qualities of a good teacher:
Ben Earwicker, Ph.D.
Educator | Founder and Mediator, Virtual Mediation
A good teacher adds something more to their educational training
The skills that good teachers share can be learned and developed over time. Teachers come in all shapes and sizes, but good teachers share a few common characteristics.
Not surprisingly, good teaching requires more than just a degree in education. It also requires a set of skills that go beyond classroom training. Great teachers take their educational training and add something more.
What they add to their teaching elevates their teaching and enriches the classroom for their students.
As a professor and administrator who works with secondary teachers throughout the Pacific Northwest, I have worked with teachers who stood out from the rest because of their passion for teaching and commitment to their students.
I’ve learned that truly great teachers tend to exhibit a common set of traits.
Some of the best teachers out there share a:
- Passion for teaching and learning
- Empathy for students
- A high degree of competence and knowledge in their field
Passion for teaching
Passion is essential for good teaching, whether you work with kindergarteners or graduate students. Passion is infectious; students know when their teacher is excited about a topic, and students catch that sense of excitement in their own learning.
But the passion for teaching is not just some magical property that transforms the classroom. Passion fuels creativity, which in turn creates engaging, interesting, and motivational learning spaces.
Passion is inspiring. But when passion is channeled into creative lesson planning and student learning activities, it can really help students engage and learn.
Passion for learning
Teachers are learners, too. And good teachers never stop learning. As a first-generation college student, I discovered first-hand how transformative education could be. And I have never stopped learning, both formally and informally.
Good teachers have an inquisitive, curious attitude toward life and education. Great teachers model life-long learning to their students, exploring and discovering alongside them.
It’s easy for students to miss the fact that teachers are students, too. Good teachers are not only model learning. They intentionally use their own learning process to model good study habits and other essential learning skills.
Sometimes it’s easy to focus more on teaching units, lesson plans, and class content than on your students. All the pressures of teaching can overwhelm teachers, especially those new to the profession or trying to manage huge workloads.
A good teacher has empathy for their students
The best teachers I’ve worked with never lose sight of the reason they wanted to get into teaching in the first place: the students.
Great teachers typically choose the teaching profession to:
- Make a difference in the lives of their students.
- Train the next generation of learners.
- Give back to society in specific, tangible ways.
It’s easy to forget all of that, though, when it feels like there’s never enough time in the workday. Students invariably bring their own unique concerns and problems with them to class.
Many students may be distracted, preoccupied, or otherwise focused on issues that are beyond the teacher’s control.
They use discipline as a teaching tool to help students refocus and recenter
I’ve seen teachers overemphasize punishment and discipline because they didn’t take the time to figure out why a student was acting out in class. Good teachers use discipline as a teaching tool to help students refocus and recenter.
They commit to understanding where students are coming from and find creative ways to address student misconduct in ways that affirm the student and help the student improve.
This approach to classroom management illustrates empathy and a truly student-centered approach to teaching. Great teachers use this empathetic approach to manage their classrooms and remind themselves of what motivated them to teach: the students.
They commit to deep learning and knowledge of their subject matter
Good teachers demonstrate empathy and a passion for teaching. They are also subject matter experts in their field, with a high degree of competence and knowledge in their particular area of education.
It’s great to be passionate and empathetic, but good teachers also commit to deep learning and knowledge of their subject matter.
This goes hand in hand with lifelong learning; great teachers always deepen their knowledge and expertise in their content area.
Some of the best teachers I’ve worked with are relentless in their pursuit of knowledge:
- They go back to school
- Join professional organizations
- Research and write
- Spend time reading and investing in themselves and their areas of interest
Again, this learning and content knowledge approach inspires students and enriches their learning environment.
Related: How to Inspire Others
Good teachers stand out from their peers because they care deeply for their students, demonstrate a passion for education, and model learning in and out of the classroom. The traits of successful teachers can be learned and practiced over time.
Being a good teacher means more than getting a degree and a position as an educator. It requires ongoing investment in learning, caring about students, and a passion for the profession.
Jeanette Teh, H.BSc., JD, MBA, ACC
Former Assistant Professor | Personal Development Coach, KSky Coaching
They connect with each student to get to know them personally
At the start of each semester, I would ask students to introduce themselves, where they’re from (I taught university students in Dubai, where the population is comprised of 200 nationalities), their hobbies, and their college major.
This enabled me (and their classmates):
- To learn more about them.
- Relate to them on an individual basis.
- Establish a bond (e.g., I love to swim too!)
- Understand their motivation for taking a course and how they can apply it.
- Know their career goals as well as their personal and educational interests.
The students felt listened to and special when I used them as an example, e.g., “Say Sam is buying lunch after his Karate class and…” This is also useful when Sam is distracted, and hearing his name immediately brings his attention back!
They speak the same cultural or generational language as their students
Speak the same “cultural or generational language” as their students by being in tune with pop culture and things that matter to them.
By getting to know the students, a teacher will be able to gauge what is of interest to them and can bring in examples that are meaningful to them, e.g., as quite a few students are interested in soccer, I brought FIFA into my lectures.
Since Business Law is a mandatory course, students pursuing accounting or marketing careers do not always understand why they are made to take this course until they directly link how important legal concepts are for an accountant or marketing professional.
We learn best when the content is meaningful and interesting to us.
Law is not always the most scintillating of topics, but it was more interesting when I brought in celebrity lawsuits or explained how each time they buy a coffee, they are, in effect, part of a contractual relationship.
Students’ interest in the news was piqued when I talked about current corporate scandals to illustrate concepts in business ethics, which helped cultivate a practice of reading about world affairs.
Even where pop culture is not tied specifically to course content, it is always fun to bring in Beyonce or Taylor Swift in conversations with the students.
It reduces the teacher-student barrier when they are better able to see and relate to their professor as a human being who shares their interests.
They understand the importance of active learning
A good teacher understands the importance of active learning and is multi-dimensional in using different teaching methods. Since everyone learns differently, not every student can absorb content from listening to lectures or reading text off the slides.
It is essential to engage students with different learning abilities by having images, videos, music, active discussion, and play.
Great teachers understand that students learn best and are better able to retain information when they are active learners who are not just passively listening or reading.
Stopping after a major concept or chapter to ask the students to reflect on their learnings and write down their thoughts on how they can apply it to their everyday life helps consolidate their learning and makes it personally relevant to them, which will aid retention.
Using the Think-Pair-Share approach, we can have them discuss their thoughts with one another person and then share them with the class.
Having students discuss different case studies or concepts and teach them to the class is another excellent way to foster learning and presentation skills.
As I try to benefit from the wisdom of those smarter than I am, I would end each lecture with a quote related to the course topic.
Some students found this effective way to relate to the content in a more thoughtful manner, especially since some quotes can evoke emotions, helping crystalize the learning and making it more meaningful.
Using role-playing (in a mock trial and a mock boardroom scenario with HR majors playing the role of HR, Finance students playing CFO, etc.) in my law and ethics courses was powerful in giving the students a taste of the “real world” and building confidence in their speaking skills while enabling them to apply the course concepts in a fun environment.
Despite their initial hesitance with something foreign to them, all the students loved the experience.
What was especially rewarding for an educator was seeing the less diligent students put in so much effort and the shy, reticent students flourish as they played their roles passionately and confidently.
I’ve also used mind mapping in preparation for exams, which the students loved as they were able to draw and bring their creative side with colored pencils and boardgames (e.g., Taboo when teaching Business Communication).
While many educators lament mobile phones as a distraction in the classroom, they can be turned into a teaching tool by asking students to find information online or to take a live survey whose results can be broadcast to the class afterward.
They have fun and enjoy themselves on stage
Even with “less exciting” topics like law and even with traditionally more “serious” learners like lawyers (I used to train lawyers), we can always have fun and have a sense of humor in the classroom.
We can be professional and serious but still be friendly, have fun, and share funny anecdotes.
Students are more engaged and learn better when they see their teachers enjoying themselves. Perhaps more importantly, when teachers laugh and enjoy themselves in class, it brings more joy, meaning, and passion to their profession.
Founder and CEO, Britannia School of Academics
Great teachers always give the world great minds, and it is one of the most respectable professions worldwide, but what makes it worth that? Here are some of the qualities of great teachers as narrated by experts.
They maintain active communication with the student and the parent
Excellent and effective teaching always requires great communication skills on the first note. The great teacher always maintains active communication with the student and the parent to make a collaborative effort for the student’s welfare.
They are great speakers, active listeners, readers, and writers
A great teacher is always a great speaker, active listener, incredible reader, and writer. The diversity of tone and non-verbal clues (body language) also aids a lot in delivering ideas and concepts of different types and involving the students in the class dynamics.
Related: Why is Body Language Important?
In addition, it is crucial to be receptive and expressive simultaneously for a teacher to identify the student’s problem areas and address them immediately.
Communication with parents is also needed to give them feedback and make them aware of any further improvements needed (Silver F., 2018).
They must be flexible or adaptable to different working situations
Another essential quality of a great teacher is adaptability. A great teacher must always be flexible or adaptable to different working situations, students, learning, colleagues, and parents.
Any teacher can suffer from burnout or frustration without adaptability because they have to teach enormous types of personalities within a class and work in different situations simultaneously.
They are capable of answering the questions of gifted students
Moreover, the same teaching style in every class and with every student can never be an effective way for a teacher.
They have to deal with the students with learning disabilities and prove themselves capable of answering the questions of gifted students with extraordinary intellectual needs.
They meet the needs of the upgradation of knowledge
Furthermore, a great teacher always has to meet the needs of the upgradation of knowledge and professional learning. Hence, rigidity or a stuck mind in the way of learning can prove fatal for a teacher’s professional development and growth.
Effectively interacting with colleagues and parents of different backgrounds and cultures also requires adaptability (Collie R J., 2017).
They are always empathetic to the students
Empathy is also a vital trait of great teachers. A great teacher is always empathetic to the students, their circumstances, and perspectives, which is crucial in maintaining the classroom environment positive and healthy.
For example, a student doing not so good in studies might be facing any trauma or going through a family crisis. At that point, an empathetic teacher might provide emotional support for that kid and help them with guidance in dealing with such trauma.
However, it must be kept in mind that empathy never means showing sympathy. Instead, it enables an individual to come out of personal judgment and biases and see the person’s circumstances through their eyes (Morin A., n.d).
They must support the intellectually challenged students patiently
Another essential trait on the list is patience. Patience, humility, and calmness are much required to become a great teacher, so the hesitance of students struggling in studies can be alleviated.
A great teacher praises not only the brilliant students but also tries to support the intellectually challenged students patiently.
They have to provide mentorship to the weak students irrespective of how many times they need to explain and continues to struggle until all the student in the class master the concept with patience and persistence (Iverson B., n.d).
Moreover, it is never the action of wise for a teacher to take the student’s conduct in class personally. For example, some students conduct could be very unpleasing or disturbing towards their peers or teachers. Patience is the utmost need for the teacher in that situation.
Although sometimes it is difficult to be not combative in response to misconduct. However, they always show patience while interacting with such kids and use behavior modification and positive reinforcement techniques to improve the pupils’ conduct and morale in the classroom.
The practice of patience can ultimately strengthen the relationship between the pupils and the teachers (Bridges D., 2021).
They share good practices and ideas with colleagues and students
Another attribute of being a great teacher, according to experts, is sharing good practices and ideas with colleagues and students.
Therefore, one of the teaching profession’s essential practices to learn and enhance their professional development is sharing their techniques and asking for feedback when sitting with colleagues.
This practice can help eradicate the flaws in their teaching style and can be a source of generating innovative ideas regarding the welfare of the students and making learning easy for them.
Therefore, teaching can be best done by making it collaborative and sharing best practices and ideas (Spencer B., 2017).
Sharing good practices with students illustrates helping students solve their problems by sharing teachers’ experiences and successful practices related to them. The students get inspiration from their teachers by seeing them as mentors and leaders.
They always look upon their teacher’s advice whenever they face any complex circumstances in their lives. Therefore, these good practices aid the pupils in learning and solving complex problems of life (Patzer R., 2020).
They prevent boredom in class and inculcate students’ interest in learning
Some other qualities of great teachers are being creative, humorous, enthusiastic, and engaging. These qualities prevent boredom in class and inculcate students’ interest in learning. Humour is something that works every time and everywhere.
The classroom environment becomes engaging and exciting when the teacher is creative enough to put humor into learning concepts and mathematical solutions. It also creates the student’s willingness to come to school and learn.
They find a new and creative way to teach
A great teacher never sticks to the traditional way of teaching but always finds a new and creative way to teach by coming to the understanding level of each learner. This practice makes them the most popular and favorite teachers at school (Vallikat, 2020).
They are optimistic
Optimism is also a crucial trait in becoming a great teacher. Many researchers have proved that teachers’ optimism can increase the productivity of the pupils’ results, no matter their background or circumstances.
In addition, it can increase self-actualization and self-efficacy in an individual. When these traits are present in a teacher, they can inculcate them in their pupils. Which ultimately increases the confidence and urge to be able to do anything in this world (Barile, n.d).
They are punctual and organized
Lastly, being punctual and organized can prove to be the last hammer in the qualities of a great teacher. The organization in the classroom, lesson delivery, and pupils’ behavior are vital to an effective classroom environment.
The teacher’s punctuality inspires the student to value time, and ultimately, they can effectively manage time.
In addition, being organized and punctual led to fewer discipline problems in the classroom (Kelly, 2020).
Related: How to Be More Organized
Professor, Cycle Chats | Podcast Host, “Cycle Chats”
They create a safe and judgment-free environment for students
In my experience as a teacher, the first thing I do for my students is set up a classroom that is a safe and judgment-free environment. I want my students to know that mistakes happen — even I make mistakes.
Once my students understand they are safe, they are ready to embark on their education journey without fear.
A good teacher understands that they are not perfect
Another quality of a good teacher is someone who understands they are not perfect, and as the world continues to grow, evolve, and change, so must they.
I look at myself as a forever student. I am constantly learning on the job, learning from my students, and learning from myself. This allows teachers to have humility, we don’t know all the answers, and we shouldn’t pretend like we do, “I don’t know” is one of the most powerful things you can say.
A good teacher has the ability to pivot
As I tell my students all the time, I can prepare for class as much as I would like, but honestly never quite know what will happen because I don’t know their answers, reactions, and questions on the material.
If I didn’t have the ability to pivot, my students would be trapped in a learning environment that may not work for them. Pivoting allows me to color outside the lines so that I know my students understand the material.
A good teacher listens to their students
Another crucial trait of a good teacher is listening to their students. This is so crucial because I always say I am more than a teacher. I am, at some points, a guidance counselor or spirit guide.
We listen not only with our ears but with our heads.
We are responsible for our students in the classroom and their well-being outside the classroom. Teachers can make positive change; they can make an impact. We just have to pay attention to what our students are saying.
A good teacher has respect for their students
The last quality I believe makes a good teacher is a respect. I tell my students on the first day of class that I will give them respect, but respect is a two-way street.
Respect is such a huge thing I give my students because I believe in our society, people are disrespected all the time, so if I can show my students something new, then we are off to a good start.
Students crave respect from their teachers, but a lot of time, teachers talk down to students or make them feel less than them, and I think that does a huge disservice to the relationship between teacher and student.
If I set my respect and expectations high, I find that my students rise to the occasion. Being a good teacher can change the course of someone’s life.
We must take that opportunity and hold it close, respect it, learn with it, and continue to ask ourselves, “Why did I want to be a teacher?”
Tutor, My Tutor Source
Teachers are just like candles that burn and strive to illuminate students’ lives! True to these words, teaching is not just a profession; it’s a responsibility.
A responsibility to create a wise generation for a better tomorrow. Truth be told, a wise generation cannot be built without good teachers!
Now let’s shed some light on the qualities of a good teacher. A few are listed below:
A good teacher treats his/her students with kindness
Students love kind teachers. When I was in 6th grade, I literally attended my Math class just because of my lovely Math teacher (however, the subject “Math” itself was torture for me).
Every Friday, she distributed chocolates to the best performers, which got me to work harder and harder every day. Ultimately, I ended up with an A in Mathematics!
Moral of the story: kind teachers can do wonders! With kindness, you can inspire your students to work hard.
A good teacher avoids discrimination
Students must feel good around their teachers. However, if instructors keep criticizing their students just because of their poor scores or racial background, they’re more likely to ruin the future generation.
Remember, treating every student equally is mandatory if you’re serious about building a wise generation.
A good teacher encourages students to beat procrastination
Believe it or not, procrastination can kill your students’ productivity. Much worse? They might fail exams.
As a teacher, you can help your students fight procrastination by designing interactive activities that are more student-centered than teacher-centered. You can also set a reward system for encouraging them to complete the tasks on time.
A good teacher motivates students to materialize their dreams
What use of a teacher if he fails to inspire their students to work hard? Here is the bitter truth. Instructors and teachers who are just delivering lectures over lectures to their students are doing no good.
Teachers should set long-term goals not only to improve students’ academic scores but also to nourish their skills and boost their motivation.
During my teaching career, I’ve seen generations transform into devils because of corrupt and terrible teachers. Hence, every teacher should work hard to develop these qualities. After all, our nation’s youth is in their hands!
Teacher | Educational Consultant, The Travel Fam
A good teacher must meet every student’s emotional and educational needs
A good teacher must meet every student’s emotional and educational needs in their classroom. In upper levels, they may have a roster of over 200 kids.
These students are traumatized from loss during the pandemic, gun violence, online bullying, and unrealistic academic expectations.
A good teacher must have the psychological bandwidth
A good teacher must have the psychological bandwidth to serve their students without themselves emotionally breaking down. That’s a tall order because teachers are struggling financially, emotionally, and physically with the toll of teaching the U.S.
A good teacher must be selfless
Giving up personal time and money to nurture, strengthen, and inspire their students. Teachers across the U.S. decorate their rooms to fit school’s expectations at personal expense to the tune of hundreds of dollars a year.
When a child comes to school without a snack, the teacher provides it. This disparity in school and teacher provision will only increase with the end of free school lunches.
A good teacher must have nerves of steel
They must be prepared to jump in the line of fire in the case of an active shooter. They must sacrifice their health to teach in schools where COVID numbers are high.
They are literally the front line of defense for our nation’s children—all without the support of the national or state government.
Why is it hard to find a good teacher?
A good teacher makes all the difference in a child’s and parent’s life, but it has become increasingly harder to find working in the classroom. The political and cultural climate across the U.S. has pushed teachers into a scapegoat role.
Teachers are blamed for political issues for which they have no control. Examples include book banning, trans and gay rights, gun violence, free lunch, and other hot-button topics.
It has become increasingly difficult for a teacher to focus on actually teaching.
There’s also a deficit of certified and qualified teachers throughout the U.S. One of the reasons that a good teacher is hard to find is because they’re leaving the classroom emotionally exhausted.
We’re tired. Tired of supplying the backbone to the economy. Tired of being blamed for failing national averages. Tired of sustaining the qualities required to be a “good teacher” in the United States.
Sean Michael Morris
VP of Academics, Course Hero
A good teacher trusts their students
It is essential that teachers focus on building trust with students. In a world where cheating can be an easy option, students are less likely to choose that path when they trust their teachers. And when students trust those around them, they are more likely to grow and learn.
I was an educator for 20 years, and in all of those years, I had one student who cheated by plagiarizing a poetry assignment for a creative writing class.
I believe in upgrading, so my initial response was not to fail him but to understand why he did what he did. Instead, I approached him after class and asked him what had happened to get to the root cause.
Because I made an effort to find out what was happening in his life, I broke down a barrier between us and built a trusting relationship. Instead of taking the path of disgracing or failing him, I reminded him that I could be flexible on deadlines and that the work was what counted in the end.
They ensure that every student gets the same quality education
New teachers often inherit the curriculum and pedagogies of their predecessors, particularly at the college level. As you evolve your teaching practice, it’s essential to question what you know and not always assume what you were taught is the right way to teach your students.
In my first year as a teacher, I was handed a syllabus and instructed to follow it precisely — textbook, readings, lectures, etc.
While this teaching method is meant to standardize the curriculum so that every student receives the same education, I realized this type of teaching was mechanical and didn’t encourage the students to be curious, ask questions and share their voices with the class.
I immediately tossed out the syllabus and created my own curriculum, setting a different tone and pace for the class that I felt was better suited to help them learn the subject matter. The traditional way of teaching is not always the best for the student.
The second you start to question what you know, your lectures begin to shift, and the way you teach changes. You’ll soon find that teaching becomes an experience not just for the teacher but for the students as well.
A good teacher collaborates with students
It’s essential to think about teaching not as something you’re doing at students or to students but with them.
Collaborating with students can look like many different things, and it’s important to recognize this at any given point. In one class, I had a student who was the only person of color. Several weeks into the course, I noticed she wasn’t participating.
She eventually reached out and apologized for her lack of involvement but also gently explained that she felt ostracized in a class full of white people talking about diversity, inclusion, and equity.
She expressed that as a woman of color, she was surrounded by a lot of students who did not understand or experience inequity. I realized I needed to learn from my students, and I was presented with an opportunity to collaborate with one of them.
The outcome of her coming forward resulted in her final project consisting of a bibliography of resources that she felt were more important than the ones I had included in the class syllabus.
I included those in my resources for the following semesters with her permission. From that experience, knowledge came into play. As a teacher, it’s essential to ask yourself, what kind of knowledge can you produce together?
Teacher and Teacher Trainer, Libra Translation
A good teacher creates a stress-free environment
It might be often overlooked, but the best teachers are those who can instantly put their students at ease. As a known fact that a stress-free environment is a key factor for students to provide their best performance.
It makes sense — would you tell a story better amongst a group of close friends or in front of 1000 people you’ve never met? Teachers that do this well have a calm, welcoming demeanor and encourage everyone to participate, especially shyer students.
This can be facilitated either directly by asking students open-ended questions to elicit their opinions and conjectures or indirectly by appearing approachable and friendly enough to encourage everyone in the classroom to open up and voice their ideas.
A good teacher turns the tables to keep the focus away from the front
Historically, teaching has always been led from the front, with one person taking on a “lecturer” role and the class intently listening and perhaps answering one or two questions throughout the lesson.
The drawback with this approach is that students fit into a passive role and might even be tempted to tune out entirely rather than follow the teacher’s points.
The best teachers turn the tables to keep the focus away from the front and the rest of the room.
They elicit examples from a particular topic that students already know
Instead of presenting the different types of triangles in mathematics, a good teacher would elicit examples of triangle types that students already know.
This involves students fully in the learning process and lets them feel good about any knowledge they contribute to the example.
They use group work as their tool of choice
In a one-hour group lesson of 30 students, a participant might only talk for one minute, answering a single question during a “led-from-the-front” lesson.
If the lesson was conducted mostly in groups or tables of three students with a set of tasks to solve as a group, the same student might talk for 10-15 minutes during the same session.
Excellent teachers also listen well and ask the right questions to keep the discussion going, providing a focus that is on the students rather than the teacher.
College Counselor and Community Manager, Transizion
A good teacher knows what they teach
As a career mentor, it’s essential for me to recognize my limitations. I don’t know much about being a lawyer, and I shouldn’t pretend I do.
I learned this lesson from my high school biology teacher, who didn’t know much about biology despite being a lovely person. He was a PE teacher substituting for the regular teacher on sabbatical, and it showed.
A teenager that I was at the time, I didn’t cut him much slack. However, he did teach me the far more valuable life lesson of respecting the boundaries of my own knowledge.
A good teacher takes time to get to know their students
My best teachers took the time to get to know me as a person and mentor me beyond the requirements of their subject.
I had an English teacher point out that I needed to learn to gracefully slow down for others. My calculus teacher helped me see that I needed to take well-intentioned criticism better.
The list goes on, but the central point remains teachers who got to know me as a person and helped me work on my character, not just knowledge, remain some of the best teachers I’ve ever had.
A good teacher is patient
Guiding students is repetitive. Whether teaching the same subject yearly or helping a single student grasp a concept, patience is the key.
If you’re a good teacher, you’re already an expert in a subject, and so it takes patience to content yourself with repeatedly returning to the basics to help other minds grasp them.
Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Sam Villa | Global Artistic Ambassador for Redken
They understand what it means to deliver and absorb information
To value education, a teacher must understand what it means to deliver and absorb information. Learning is continuous throughout our lives and has endless possibilities for discovery. Educational experiences must be learner-focused.
They understand that each learner is unique in meaningful ways
A good teacher understands that each learner is unique in meaningful ways with potential and a desire to learn, and they have the ability to unleash that desire.
An example would be questioning skills, as questions are life’s greatest resource for learning, and the answer is always in the room. Listening skills are a must as a teacher must listen to understand versus listening to be understood.
They are a nonjudgmental listener
A good teacher is a nonjudgmental listener and takes the responsibility of delivering information without personal opinions that may cloud the learning experience. Learner-focus teaching requires focusing on the student’s needs versus the content’s importance.
They plant seeds of information and practices patience
A good teacher plants seeds of information and practices patience as these seeds take root. They are selfless and supportive, spending countless hours dedicated to the student.
No matter the subject, Hair to Geometry, History to Fashion, Science to Astrology, all good teachers have one thing in common — they are lifelong learners.
As teachers, we must never cease to learn. This is what fuels the desire to invest in and reshape people in such a way that helps them become more than what they think they are. To help others expand their realities and pass on what they have learned.
They give learners the ability to choose
With a big heart and integrity, a good teacher embodies the past, present, and future by giving the learners tools, skills, and the ability to choose.
In our company’s culture, these are some of the things we strive for and look for from each other and our teachers. We are continuously committed to the growth of others.
As an educator/teacher, it is the legacy I want to leave for present and future generations. Share, care, and grow.
Being a lifelong facilitator of education to salon professionals has been the heart and soul of my existence, and I will continue to stand before my students, motivated by my passion for teaching.
Peter Dufresne, Ph.D.
Chief Academic Officer, Knovva Academy
They are open to many different styles of learning
They are empathetic and understanding to all students, including those who need to learn in different ways than others.
My experience as a teacher and administrator has led me to have the opportunity to serve as a principal at both large and small schools, as a curriculum director, and as an acting superintendent.
This experience has taught me all about the best qualities educators can have to positively impact students.
They help students succeed by setting achievable goals
The best teachers help students succeed by setting achievable goals and giving them positive feedback along the way. They are role models who inspire students to learn, no matter their style.
They encourage various learning routes
Good teachers also recognize opportunities on students’ behalf and encourage various learning routes, such as online supplemental work or unique student programs like our Model G20 program.
Our academy is an educational institution that guides students into their dream colleges through live online classes, tutoring, and counseling. Our Model G20 program is an opportunity for hundreds of students across the world to meet and discuss economic issues.
Life Coach and Student Services Advisor, Oxford Learning College
A good teacher adapts based on the preferred learning styles of the students
While every teacher will bring something different to the table, there are some qualities that separate the best from the rest.
Those that really stand out have the ability to adapt based on the personalities and preferred learning styles of the students. They create fun and engaging learning experiences, ensuring the inclusion of pupils at all academic levels.
These traits are shared by the best teachers:
- The ability to communicate at the students’ level while remaining professional.
- Listening and observing any issues that the students might have.
- A passion for learning and integrating the most effective practices.
- Natural empathy and understanding of issues beyond the classroom.
- Making learning relevant to the interests of today’s students.
Think about the teachers that you remember for the right reasons. Were they the ones who stuck rigidly to the curriculum and showed a lack of tolerance? Or were they approachable and obviously focused on your best interests?
Dr. Andrew Ward, MS, MEd, PhD
Visiting Assistant Professor, Tulane University | Founder, International High School of New Orleans
A good teacher fosters a diverse community of lifelong learners
I have found that the qualities of a good teacher are predominantly:
- Enthusiasm – If the teacher is passionate about the material, the students will be as well.
- Creativity – Everyone learns differently. The teacher must endeavor to make the material as accessible as possible in multiple ways simultaneously to all sorts of different students. Everyone benefits from learning how to learn in new ways.
- Curiosity – Good teachers learn a lot about their subject area and sadly often rest on their laurels. Great teachers never stop learning — always casting the net of knowledge wider and deeper and coming up with ever-more nuanced understandings.
- Compassion – School is not, nor should it ever be boot camp. Students bring their life experiences to every lesson. A wise teacher should not ignore or decry those experiences but rather make every effort to understand them and incorporate them into the learning plan.
Higher Education Consultant, TEG London
They set their students up for success in the real world
A good teacher should be able to set their students up for success in “the real world” by providing them with important life lessons that happen both inside and outside of the classroom. They do this by teaching skills like empathy, adaptability, and being truthful with students when applicable.
I feel there’s this notion that teachers should caudle their students and not step on the toes of parents, which to some degree is true.
However, it helps to have an adult outside your personal life who can teach you lessons on how to conduct yourself outside the classroom.
They should be good at building leaders
Teachers should be good at building leaders and listening to their students when they have important feedback. They should also be able to teach in a way that is accessible to everyone, taking into consideration all the different styles of learning.
This means listening to their students’ suggestions and being able to take notes when one of them might be struggling. It helps to ask your students how they best learn and create a plan that can cater to their needs within reason.
Education Technology Expert | Founder, My eLearning World
A good teacher lights the fire of learning in their students
A great teacher is someone who lights the fire of learning in their students. They possess a deep knowledge of their subject area and can communicate that knowledge clearly to their students.
They create a supportive and positive learning environment where all students feel comfortable taking risks and exploring new ideas.
A good teacher challenges their students to reach their full potential
Great teachers also have high expectations for their students and challenge them to reach their full potential. They provide constructive and encouraging feedback, and they are constantly growing and adapting as educators.
Above all, great teachers truly love what they do and feel a deep sense of responsibility for the future success of their students.
Clinical Director, ChoicePoint
A good teacher is responsible for creating a whole nation of people who will grow into great adults.
Here are some of the qualities of a good teacher:
A good teacher is an empath
A good teacher should realize that not every child comes from a stable and loving home environment. Some children are neurodivergent and require special attention. This is one of the main reasons why children begin to lag in school.
A child might start getting poor grades, might dissociate during classes, and sometimes teachers might notice behavioral changes.
It’s important not to get aggressive in front of the entire class. Instead, schedule a meeting with parents and discuss the child’s progress with them.
A good teacher is a good listener
All children don’t think the same way but have equally amazing ideas. To make children listen to you, you have to set an example by being a good listener. It will enable these students to have good communication skills in the future.
Here’s an example, when a student asks a question in front of other students, give yourself a few seconds to consider your response so that you can genuinely concentrate on what the child has to say so that they feel important and understood.
A good teacher knows how to self-reflect
A good teacher always knows how to self-reflect. The capacity for self-reflection, which may result in academic achievement as well as self-acceptance, allows a person to consider their own needs, wants, and interests.
For example, students are more likely to engage in the same self-reflection level when teachers reflect on their strengths and flaws.
CEO, Kitty Baby Love
A good teacher exhibit their passion for what they do
The first and most important quality a teacher must exhibit is a passion for what they do. You can be a great communicator and be the loveliest person around, but if you do not truly enjoy your work, you will never be a great teacher.
A passionate teacher’s enthusiasm for their subject or whatever they are teaching quickly starts to rub off on their students, whereas students will soon pick up on a lack of enthusiasm from their teachers.
If your teacher isn’t passionate about a subject, why should the student be? It gives the impression to students that a given subject isn’t worth learning about.
Following closely behind a genuine passion for your work, traits that the best teachers all demonstrate are humanity and empathy.
How can you expect to be able to teach a group of people something if you don’t understand them?
As an art therapist, this is something I feel particularly strongly about. It’s only when you put yourselves in your students’ shoes and understand them intimately that you can work out how they might best respond to your teaching.
A good teacher exhibit a broad spectrum of emotions
I say humanity, too, because I think it is vital that teachers exhibit a broad spectrum of emotions in front of their students.
There can be a tendency for teachers to become somewhat robotic, especially when they are repeatedly delivering the same lessons.
This is understandable, but it’ll stop you from becoming a great teacher. You might think it unprofessional to exhibit your emotions in front of your students, but it can be an incredibly powerful learning experience.
If you’re teaching about some great tragedy that genuinely saddens you, shedding a tear can convey the importance of studying the event and learning about it better than a textbook ever could.
Former Teacher | Content Writer, Love & Lavender
As a former teacher of many years and a seemingly constant student of languages myself as an adult, I can confidently say that a good teacher makes all the difference. And a bad one can be crushing.
A good teacher needs to be flexible
Above all, a good teacher needs to be flexible. There is no “standard student,” and even if there is an average or a norm, it constantly changes as the world changes around us.
Some people may find this exhausting, but personally, it was one of my favorite parts of the job.
A constantly changing job with new challenges is engaging and breaks the monotony and boredom of doing the same thing, following the same career, for years on end.
I think, not coincidentally, I was considered by most to be a good teacher and had excellent relationships overall with my school, students, and teachers.
A good teacher listens and observes
A good teacher also needs to listen and observe. Children are not always capable of communicating what they need, what they are having trouble with, or what they want, especially in front of their peers.
A good teacher needs to find a way to give students an opportunity and outlet to communicate and ask leading questions (and ask questions in the first place!) vs. open-ended ones.
- “Is there anything you find confusing?”
- “Are there any points you would like to have explained again?”
- “What is your least favorite part of this text/question/problem/assignment?”
- “Do you have any questions?”
- “Does everyone understand?”
Helping students to communicate and listen to what they say is an essential element of any good teacher.
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