Top 9 Characteristics and Qualities of a Good Teacher

Updated on September 7, 2018
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Every teacher wants to be good, but what exactly are the qualities that make a good teacher? What are the skills, talents, and characteristics, and can they be taught or learned?

Teaching can be quite satisfying for people who do it well. I know this because I am a teacher, too. Although I do not think I'm always the best teacher, do I know that the majority of my students love me, and I guess this is partly why good things happen in my classroom.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about—and done a lot of research into—the question of what characteristics make a teacher effective and how I can succeed in the classroom. Although every great teacher has their own special, unique style, I have found that there are nine specific universal qualities that are necessary for anyone who wants to teach effectively, whether they want to teach in an elementary school or a university. If any teacher possesses the following characteristics and qualities, he/she can become a very good teacher with large fan base.

What Makes a Great Teacher

  • expert communication skills
  • superior listening skills
  • deep knowledge and passion for their subject matter
  • the ability to build caring relationships with students
  • friendliness and approachability
  • excellent preparation and organization skills
  • strong work ethic
  • community-building skills
  • high expectations for all

Each of these characteristics is described fully below. Although great teachers may also possess a number of other wonderful qualities (like a sense of humor, personality, flexibility, kindness, leadership, classroom management, a calm demeanor, experience, and the ability to multitask), these are the qualities the best teachers universally possess.

Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.

— William Butler Yeats

1. Excellent Communication Skills

You'd think that the most important quality for a teacher to possess would be knowledge, since that's what the job is all about, after all: sharing knowledge. But no matter how knowledgable a person is, if they can't convey what they know to others in a way that is not only understandable but engaging, the knowledge itself is useless.

  • If a teacher's communication skills (verbal, nonverbal, and visual, which involve speaking, writing, imagery, body language, and the organization of ideas into understandable structures) are good, they can convey knowledge with better skill and results.
  • Since a large part of good communication is knowing when the audience has understood, these teachers notice when they have communicated effectively and when they have not. They will often paraphrase, illustrate, or take another tact entirely when it becomes apparent that their communication has fallen flat or has not reached or connected to the entire class.
  • A good teacher notices when even one student among many does not understand, and makes an effort to communicate individually when necessary.
  • Communication also involves explaining exactly what the assignments and expectations are. When students fully understand what is expected of them, it's much easier for them to deliver.
  • Interestingly, not only are communication skills incredibly important in the classroom, but they are among the most important skills in any setting. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, most Americans view communication as the most important skill for long term success “to get ahead in the world today.” So by being good communicators, teachers are modeling important lifetime skills by example.

2. Superior Listening Skills

In addition to being good communicators, good teachers also happen to be excellent listeners. As the Turkish proverb says,"If speaking is silver, then listening is gold." Of course, effective communication only happens when at least two parties are actively involved in the process together, and the only way to know if communication is heard is by asking (and listening to the answer).

So in an ideal learning environment, teachers ask important questions and then actively, carefully, empathetically listen to what learners have to say. When good teachers develop this patient quality in themselves, they start to become great. Great teachers listen hard and then use what they hear to improve the communication.

Those who know, do. Those who understand, teach.

— Aristotle

3. Deep Knowledge of and Passion for the Subject Matter

There is a saying that a teacher is only as good as what they know. If a teacher lacks knowledge in a subject, that dearth of understanding is passed along to the students. And keep in mind that although formal education is one way a teacher might gain the knowledge they need in order to teach well, there are other ways.

Passion is infectious. Love of a subject matter inspires a person to learn more, dig deeper, and think harder about it, so passion inspires deeper knowledge. The best teachers are those that clearly love their subjects and pass that passion and desire to learn more on to their students. When the teacher not only has the right answer to a student's question but can expand the discussion with vivid examples, amusing illustrative anecdotes, and relevant facts, and when the teacher has a deep well of understanding and expertise to draw on, then every lesson is enriched, and every student might be inspired.

4. The Ability to Develop Strong Relationships With Students

It's not enough just to know what you're talking about, though, and a great teacher doesn't only teach from the head. In the best classrooms, hearts are involved, as well. In order to create successful learning environments, great teachers need to be able to build caring relationships with their students. It is the caring student-teacher relationship that facilitates the exchange of information.

The best teachers are often the ones that care the most deeply, not only about their jobs, but about every student they serve. It's not enough just to love the subject matter: Great teachers also share a love of students. Caring about the students is what inspires teachers to reach out, do better, communicate more, ask, learn, refine, and improve. This is something that can't be taught, not even in the best school.

5. Friendliness and Approachability

Because it's the teacher's job to help students learn, they must be easy to approach. Students will have questions that can't be answered if the teacher isn't friendly and easy to talk to. The crabby, unapproachable, terse, mean, arrogant, rude, all-business teacher can't last long. If the students think of their teacher as their enemy, they certainly won't learn much. The best teachers are the most open, welcoming, and easy to approach.

6. Preparation and Organization Skills

No matter how charming you are, if you show up for a class without an excellent plan for how to teach your material, you won't succeed. Great teachers spend endless hours outside of the classroom preparing, designing lessons, learning more (both about their subject matter specifically and how to teach, in general), participating in professional development, and thinking of fresh and interesting ways to reach the students.

The best teachers have excellent lesson plans, lectures, and assignments that they continually improve. They have studied extensively and read widely about how to teach and methods to facilitate learning. They structure their days, lessons, and units in a way that fosters maximal understanding and interest. They collaborate with other teachers and attend classes to learn more about their subject matter and how to best convey it. They are available outside of class, and they grade papers quickly, writing personal notes to help their students understand.

A good teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.

— Henry Adams

7. A Strong Work Ethic

Anyone who's done it knows that teaching is one of the hardest jobs there is. The secret that keeps them going is that great teachers really, really want to be great teachers, and they'll stop at nothing do succeed. A great teacher will do almost anything to help their students. They always make time and they're always willing to help. If something doesn't work, they'll work tirelessly until they find a solution. A teacher's work is never done but the best ones never stop trying, they never quit.

8. The Ability to Build Community

The best teachers understand the importance of building supportive and collaborative environments. In addition to forming caring relationships with each student, the best teachers foster healthy and mutually respectful relationships between the students. They know how to establish guidelines and assign roles to enlist every student's help and participation. Every student feels like they are not only accepted by the larger group, but that their presence is a necessary ingredient in the classroom's magic. Their classrooms are like little communities where each individual plays a part and feels at home.

9. High Expectations for All

Studies show that a teacher's expectations have a huge impact on student achievement. The best teachers have high expectations for all of their students. They expect a lot from each student, but those expectations are both challenging and realistic. This doesn't mean they hold all students to the same high standard, but instead that they know what each student is capable of individually and strive to help each one attain their personal best.

What do you think?

Which is the most important characteristic of a good teacher?

See results

What brought you here?

Why do you want to know what makes a good teacher?

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The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.

— Pablo Picasso

Comments

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    • profile image

      Kelly Beri 

      8 days ago

      Thanks alot for this great article it really helped me because am a practicing teacher

    • profile image

      BOAKYE STANLEY 

      2 weeks ago

      A student from university of education winneba UEW Ghana.

      This has contributed me alot and I do appreciate it.

    • profile image

      andraina 2.0 

      3 weeks ago

      i like this article because i'm a student

    • profile image

      Lydia Bacca 

      4 weeks ago

      I really love this article, all the points are so true I am a teacher myself, and been teaching, I find so much satisfaction, in this profession, it's a life touching work am so proud to be part of a student's, life. God bless you all the Teachers around the World. Peace.

    • profile image

      Abruhani Bakari 

      4 weeks ago

      Thanks. The article has been very useful in my teaching profession,particularly the paragraph about ability to develop strong relationship with students. Thanks

    • profile image

      Molla Derbew 

      5 weeks ago

      I Hopp I will update my self based on those Nine basic things. Thank you, well done!!

    • profile image

      ria 

      5 weeks ago

      I hope I can practice it as good as I can

    • profile image

      jamesnkalamo128@gmail.com 

      6 weeks ago

      I want to be a teacher... Since childhood.

    • profile image

      Chris Door 

      6 weeks ago

      This is inspiring and insightful.

      I am a young teacher and this is a timely reminder of the fact that I should bolster my morale and courage to grow and evolve.

      I am loving it. Kudos to one who points these cold facts. I instinctively tends to this in my work....

    • profile image

      Julius okeno.. homabay kenya 

      6 weeks ago

      job well done

    • profile image

      Omoniyi 

      7 weeks ago

      Very fantastic, applicable to all levels of learning

    • profile image

      Enoch 

      7 weeks ago

      Teachers are responsible for the track progress of students

    • profile image

      sunil 

      7 weeks ago

      Teachers are the creators of civilisations, values , culture.

      They weave tomorrow.

      They sculpt mankind.

      They give us tools to explore the immense potential that is innate in each one of us.

    • profile image

      imran 

      7 weeks ago

      teaching is experienced

    • profile image

      Joshua 

      2 months ago

      Teachers are bedrock of every successful individual

    • profile image

      Antonyo singano 

      2 months ago

      I am a student at unilicungo university of mozambique. This article is wonderful and it helped me in my work of research,I was given the same topic.

    • profile image

      Katherine Akiatan 

      2 months ago

      Being a good a teacher is very fulfilling as you see your learners progress.Thank you! this article is a great help.

    • profile image

      sanju 

      2 months ago

      Teacher is one who makes students life success

    • profile image

      Latoya Wallace 

      2 months ago

      I want to become a teacher its my desire, dream and passion and Im aiming for the goal.

    • profile image

      mlamleli zubenathi 

      2 months ago

      i'm student teacher and i cant wait to be in the field i just love working with the children

    • profile image

      CALLISTUS KONGKUAH 

      2 months ago

      Just loving to make an impact in someone's life, what l love to do most

    • profile image

      CALLISTUS KONGKUAH 

      2 months ago

      Just loving to share, what I have is most valuable in life

    • profile image

      keerthi 

      2 months ago

      It is very nice and important teaching methods point and very useful us

    • profile image

      Sherley Dowman 

      3 months ago

      Great article

    • profile image

      barch 

      3 months ago

      use full things are mentioned txs

    • profile image

      Uche Monica 

      3 months ago

      How do I access myself of being either a good or a bad teacher?

    • profile image

      Jabulani 

      3 months ago

      It's very amazing I like the words and Self esteem that you have they both encouraging and I learned a lot from them thank u

    • profile image

      Saky 

      3 months ago

      Important article

    • profile image

      Morris 

      3 months ago

      Ethusiastic

    • profile image

      3 months ago

      thank u

    • profile image

      Johanna Emmanuel 

      3 months ago

      This was amazing

      .

    • profile image

      caca 

      3 months ago

      This article is very informational.

    • profile image

      BRahail 

      3 months ago

      Love the way you explain....

      Clear and to the point

    • profile image

      eliud omulo 

      3 months ago

      Good article

    • profile image

      eliud omulo 

      3 months ago

      Good article

    • profile image

      Herath 

      4 months ago

      Very useful

    • profile image

      M. Boone 

      4 months ago

      I need to choose a topic for a course I'm taking. This article assisted me in choosing, The Characteristics of a Teacher Leader. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Jonah Moti 

      4 months ago

      Love this job so best articles

    • profile image

      asad 

      4 months ago

      clear and to the point, explained well

    • profile image

      Atta Hussain Athar 

      4 months ago

      Great article

    • profile image

      Lekoro Masesi 

      4 months ago

      A very good and helpful information.Thank very much

    • profile image

      Sharmaarke Omar araye 

      4 months ago

      Good article

      I wait this article for years

    • profile image

      siraj panhwer 

      4 months ago

      full of best knowledge article

    • profile image

      Ahmazarudeen 

      4 months ago

      Great article. When teachers are generally good with their students, they study well. Communication should be articulate.

    • profile image

      Uzma Mushtaq 

      4 months ago

      Remarkable .....

    • profile image

      Kyeremaah Emmanuella 

      4 months ago

      I'm very much grateful for this article

    • profile image

      Phumza Mpu 

      4 months ago

      Thank you so much for such detail, rich and helpful information

    • profile image

      Ghazi Mohammad 

      5 months ago

      Well done very useful, helpful, practical!

    • profile image

      Mongezi Kuze 

      5 months ago

      The article is an eye opener for beginners, much appreciated

    • profile image

      Bhawana Srivastava 

      5 months ago

      Really a good and effective article. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      QISTINA ZAKREY 

      5 months ago

      thank you for the questions

    • profile image

      Najma Batool 

      5 months ago

      Thankyou so much for the upgrades informations time to time and sharing the knowledge with all.

      Regards

    • profile image

      manikaran xia 

      5 months ago

      it is great that google post these online questions . it is so fun to play and answer them. And the best part of it is that its educatif.

    • profile image

      Tusiime Rodence 

      5 months ago

      Well done thanks for that article.

    • profile image

      Usman Darda'u Usman 

      5 months ago

      Thank you very much for the article.

    • profile image

      Zamira Turdyeva 

      6 months ago

      Good ideas!Well DONE! ....interesting

    • profile image

      Makgothokgo Matome Richard 

      6 months ago

      I like what has been explained as others really hijacked that profession n they need to reintrospect themselves.i thank you.

    • profile image

      Jane 

      6 months ago

      So educative,thank you.

    • profile image

      Shantilata Das 

      6 months ago

      The ideas about a real teacher

    • profile image

      Blap 

      6 months ago

      This is a good article, it could be applied not teacher only, but also other occupant. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Augustine Agoth Ring 

      6 months ago

      Thanks for a mazing qualities outline

    • profile image

      Shirley Jackson 

      7 months ago

      Great article on the characteristics and qualities of a " Good Teacher".

    • profile image

      Jakir hassan 

      7 months ago

      Thanks you brother for you good write

    • profile image

      Sarah Khan 

      7 months ago

      Great article on teacher traits. I sincerely loved it!!!!

    • profile image

      Rajeswari 

      7 months ago

      It is very interesting to learn more about teaching.it is immeasurable .

    • profile image

      vihara imandi 

      7 months ago

      This article was really helpful for me and it also made me think about many of my good teachers I met in my life.

    • profile image

      kwenda Kennedy 

      7 months ago

      what a pleasant and lovely article it is!!!! I'm greatly inspired with it as I'm know a student at a college soon to be a teacher!!!

    • profile image

      Charlotte 

      7 months ago

      The article was helpful.

    • profile image

      James Mbakpuo 

      7 months ago

      I find this site a very useful one for those who aspire to become good teacher.

    • profile image

      Twala knowledge 

      7 months ago

      Thanks I'm also inspired about the INFO

    • profile image

      Meenakshi 

      7 months ago

      Thanks very good and inspirational article.

    • profile image

      Grace Adesina 

      7 months ago

      Thanks very helpful article. I am inspired

    • profile image

      Roy 

      7 months ago

      Nice article. One minor correction: In the communication section, the term is "take another tack" (with a K). Search that expression to see the origins of that expression.

    • profile image

      Ahmed abdi 

      7 months ago

      This article are very nice

    • profile image

      Rajendra Bhoglekar 

      8 months ago

      There is no limit to be a good teacher. Some qualities make well in the class, some more in the school, and some more in big student and teacher community. Yet this article motivate to follow the path to be the best teacher.

    • profile image

      Hayat Aslam 

      8 months ago

      Thanks for giving such kind of imparmition

    • profile image

      Joshua Yaling 

      8 months ago

      I am really inspired

    • profile image

      Gulnaz Azeem 

      8 months ago

      It’s very true but we can say all qualities should be fall in teachers which appear in human beings.teacher is the soul of society.

    • profile image

      supritirozario@yahoo 

      8 months ago

      Very much helpful.

    • profile image

      Agbavitor Bright Elijah 

      8 months ago

      Thanks for that great education

    • profile image

      Mady 

      8 months ago

      this helped us so much

    • profile image

      ahmad 

      8 months ago

      what quality or qualities do you have that would enhance your teaching staff

    • profile image

      soenfane kenonto 

      9 months ago

      its very helpful and I really enjoy it. thanks a lot.

    • profile image

      Iqra malik 

      9 months ago

      I found it very helpful .This article is so good and have a unique impression .I like it very much .Thankxxa lot for this wonderful essay.

    • profile image

      ikwuje joy ene 

      9 months ago

      my research work

    • profile image

      Dominic 

      9 months ago

      This article is a must read for every teacher aspiring to make a great impact on his students

    • profile image

      Kalu Christopher quality of a good teacher 

      9 months ago

      My research work

    • profile image

      Tshepo Mac Donald Mosiako 

      9 months ago

      I have gain enough knowledge from what I have searched about characteristics of a good social science teacher and it has help me a lot...so that I will be ready for our upcoming generation,i will teach them to understand my subject

    • profile image

      mary 

      9 months ago

      I not rude or self center either. But consider to really as perfect as possible I truly hates making mistake . Life can difficult to live in so both flexible and firm at the same you how to do. But there not one thing you change in approach even children understand,teach another person . thank you for time

    • profile image

      ciimo 

      9 months ago

      thank you so much for the articles, it really helping us.

    • profile image

      Yasir 

      9 months ago

      Thanks for giving us knowledge about teacher characteristics like this,

      I'm a student, I'm writing an Assignment, it gave me a lot of help, thank u for helping

    • profile image

      Ahmed babu 

      9 months ago

      Thanks for this article....it was helpful..

    • profile image

      miss Fairhope 

      9 months ago

      HI guys thank you for adding this article in this page its really helping us since we are doing this course which is about qualities of good teachers and bad teachers

    • profile image

      G Rama Krishna 

      9 months ago

      Every teacher should know

    • profile image

      sofiayousef 

      9 months ago

      this really inspired me

    • profile image

      gulagha 

      9 months ago

      every teacher need to a a good charactherstic

    • profile image

      Phethego Magana 

      10 months ago

      Im studying teaching so now I was writing an assignment.this article helps me a lot tnx

    • profile image

      Yolanda Mbali Mazibuko 

      10 months ago

      I am writing an assignment so this article was truly helpful thnx

    • profile image

      khan kulsum 

      10 months ago

      Right now i m doing teacher's course...So this article is very helpful for me to become a good teacher.

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