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?

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What brought you here?

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

See results

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

— Pablo Picasso

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    • profile image

      Johanna Emmanuel 

      42 hours ago

      This was amazing

      .

    • profile image

      caca 

      4 days ago

      This article is very informational.

    • profile image

      BRahail 

      4 days ago

      Love the way you explain....

      Clear and to the point

    • profile image

      eliud omulo 

      5 days ago

      Good article

    • profile image

      eliud omulo 

      5 days ago

      Good article

    • profile image

      Herath 

      9 days ago

      Very useful

    • profile image

      M. Boone 

      11 days 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 

      12 days ago

      Love this job so best articles

    • profile image

      asad 

      2 weeks ago

      clear and to the point, explained well

    • profile image

      Atta Hussain Athar 

      2 weeks ago

      Great article

    • profile image

      Lekoro Masesi 

      3 weeks ago

      A very good and helpful information.Thank very much

    • profile image

      Sharmaarke Omar araye 

      4 weeks ago

      Good article

      I wait this article for years

    • profile image

      siraj panhwer 

      4 weeks ago

      full of best knowledge article

    • profile image

      Ahmazarudeen 

      5 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      Uzma Mushtaq 

      5 weeks ago

      Remarkable .....

    • profile image

      Kyeremaah Emmanuella 

      5 weeks ago

      I'm very much grateful for this article

    • profile image

      Phumza Mpu 

      5 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      Ghazi Mohammad 

      6 weeks ago

      Well done very useful, helpful, practical!

    • profile image

      Mongezi Kuze 

      7 weeks ago

      The article is an eye opener for beginners, much appreciated

    • profile image

      Bhawana Srivastava 

      7 weeks ago

      Really a good and effective article. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      QISTINA ZAKREY 

      7 weeks ago

      thank you for the questions

    • profile image

      Najma Batool 

      2 months ago

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

      Regards

    • profile image

      manikaran xia 

      2 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 

      2 months ago

      Well done thanks for that article.

    • profile image

      Usman Darda'u Usman 

      2 months ago

      Thank you very much for the article.

    • profile image

      Zamira Turdyeva 

      2 months ago

      Good ideas!Well DONE! ....interesting

    • profile image

      Makgothokgo Matome Richard 

      2 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 

      2 months ago

      So educative,thank you.

    • profile image

      Shantilata Das 

      2 months ago

      The ideas about a real teacher

    • profile image

      Blap 

      3 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 

      3 months ago

      Thanks for a mazing qualities outline

    • profile image

      Shirley Jackson 

      3 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Jakir hassan 

      3 months ago

      Thanks you brother for you good write

    • profile image

      Sarah Khan 

      3 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Rajeswari 

      3 months ago

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

    • profile image

      vihara imandi 

      3 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 

      3 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 

      3 months ago

      The article was helpful.

    • profile image

      James Mbakpuo 

      3 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Twala knowledge 

      4 months ago

      Thanks I'm also inspired about the INFO

    • profile image

      Meenakshi 

      4 months ago

      Thanks very good and inspirational article.

    • profile image

      Grace Adesina 

      4 months ago

      Thanks very helpful article. I am inspired

    • profile image

      Roy 

      4 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 

      4 months ago

      This article are very nice

    • profile image

      Rajendra Bhoglekar 

      4 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 

      4 months ago

      Thanks for giving such kind of imparmition

    • profile image

      Joshua Yaling 

      4 months ago

      I am really inspired

    • profile image

      Gulnaz Azeem 

      4 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 

      4 months ago

      Very much helpful.

    • profile image

      Agbavitor Bright Elijah 

      5 months ago

      Thanks for that great education

    • profile image

      Mady 

      5 months ago

      this helped us so much

    • profile image

      ahmad 

      5 months ago

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

    • profile image

      soenfane kenonto 

      5 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Iqra malik 

      5 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 

      5 months ago

      my research work

    • profile image

      Dominic 

      5 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 

      5 months ago

      My research work

    • profile image

      Tshepo Mac Donald Mosiako 

      5 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 

      5 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 

      5 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Yasir 

      5 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 

      5 months ago

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

    • profile image

      miss Fairhope 

      5 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 

      6 months ago

      Every teacher should know

    • profile image

      sofiayousef 

      6 months ago

      this really inspired me

    • profile image

      gulagha 

      6 months ago

      every teacher need to a a good charactherstic

    • profile image

      Phethego Magana 

      6 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Yolanda Mbali Mazibuko 

      6 months ago

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

    • profile image

      khan kulsum 

      6 months ago

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

    • profile image

      khan kulsum 

      6 months ago

      Right now i m doing teachere's course ...

      So dis article is very helpful for me to become a good teacher in future

    • profile image

      Johana Matlou 

      6 months ago

      As a teaching student

      I appreciate your efforts in writing this article. As it brings out knowledge to some of us who are following this career. Hopefully one of the good days i'll become one of the best teachers ever, if i apply those characteristics.

      #Much appreciated

    • profile image

      Enoch 

      6 months ago

      In fact I have really proof that if you talk you are only repeating what you already know but if you listen you may learn something new

    • profile image

      Rapelang 

      6 months ago

      this article gave me better understanding of characteristics of a professional teacher,

    • profile image

      Amrutha Prakash 

      6 months ago

      Amazing and Inspiring article to become a good and best teacher to their students. Thanks for the information.

    • profile image

      Sera L 

      6 months ago

      What if you strongly possess 7 of the 9?

      I know that I am solid in #s 1-5 and #7.

      I am 49 years old and am in just my second year as a teacher. I teach 6th and 7th graders primarily. My preparation and organization skills are "developing". I work my tail off. I am finding it hard to set any expectations, let alone high ones, as my class is chaotic and every lesson, no matter how detailed the plan, is thwarted by constantly redirecting off-task students. Classroom management (Which I suppose can be under #8 Building Community) is not coming quickly.

      And so I am really befuddled by this:

      "[Good 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."

      How does one do this, or at least begin the process?

      In my classroom, there are cliques. Those who are part of the cliques and those who are not already come to the class with unhealthy, (mostly, though sometimes one-directional) mutually disrespectful relationships.

      I am struggling to maintain a minimal level of engagement. I have sought help from my mentor and my principal (who likely won't be renewing my contract). I am giving it my best shot, but I am pretty darn stressed out.

      Any advice?

    • profile image

      AJIROBA KEHINDE B. 

      6 months ago

      excellent explanation

    • profile image

      Ali Mohammed Al Lawati 

      7 months ago

      Seek a teaching job abroad and spend at least two to three years outside your hometown (comfort zone). This will present you as an authority when interacting with students and their parents

    • profile image

      Bisheswari 

      7 months ago

      What an inspiring article!

    • profile image

      Richard 

      7 months ago

      You have made me get a job easily...l am grateful.

    • profile image

      John Ajayi 

      8 months ago

      I am a teacher,reading this article makes me understand that i am really a good teacher.The article describes me.

    • profile image

      Ronald Oktavian 

      8 months ago

      Hi, i just wanna say this is really amazing article that talk about being a super power teacher. This writing motivate me to always improve my skills in teaching. Thank you writer

    • profile image

      Driss wahman 

      8 months ago

      thanks for all the informations , they are really helpful

    • profile image

      shukuru 

      8 months ago

      Nice!

    • profile image

      Amani Yousef 

      8 months ago

      I really enjoyed this article.

    • profile image

      Love 

      8 months ago

      Thank you, have a nice day.

    • mujamemazeingo profile image

      mujamemazeingo 

      8 months ago

      Im teacher please help me with my Assessment

    • profile image

      Nazir 

      8 months ago

      Excellent explanation

    • profile image

      girl 

      9 months ago

      eh, I really have no thoughts. I'm writing an essay anyways. I don't really care

    • profile image

      molly 

      10 months ago

      I really enjoyed this article and its helped me in an insightful way to understand beneficial ways i can, engagage,support and most importantly educate the students im amoungst

    • profile image

      Sushma 

      10 months ago

      Thanks for these points which is essential for all good teachers

    • profile image

      Hart 

      10 months ago

      Informative... thanks for sharing your thoughts...

    • profile image

      Maroof 

      10 months ago

      Where is conclusion.

      Plz send conclusion

    • profile image

      Sarai 

      11 months ago

      this was very helpful

    • profile image

      David Schillo 

      11 months ago

      Very interesting article .

    • profile image

      Enock 

      11 months ago

      Really the ideas stated here is interesting. In fact, to me it is very helpful. Thanks alot.....

    • profile image

      Miss nour 

      11 months ago

      What I need

    • profile image

      OKELLO ROBERT 

      11 months ago

      Teaching is Noble. Thanks

    • profile image

      Wa'ilu surajo 

      11 months ago

      Teaching is very good of this time thank you.

    • profile image

      Sowmiya. K 

      11 months ago

      Teaching is one profession that crests all profession

    • profile image

      Ishaka aliyu damari 

      11 months ago

      To be a teacher

    working

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