Top 9 Characteristics and Qualities of a Good Teacher

Updated on September 7, 2018
Source

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?

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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

      Grace Adesina 

      10 hours ago

      Thanks very helpful article. I am inspired

    • profile image

      Roy 

      4 days 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 

      5 days ago

      This article are very nice

    • profile image

      Rajendra Bhoglekar 

      10 days 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 

      2 weeks ago

      Thanks for giving such kind of imparmition

    • profile image

      Joshua Yaling 

      2 weeks ago

      I am really inspired

    • profile image

      Gulnaz Azeem 

      2 weeks 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 

      3 weeks ago

      Very much helpful.

    • profile image

      Agbavitor Bright Elijah 

      4 weeks ago

      Thanks for that great education

    • profile image

      Mady 

      4 weeks ago

      this helped us so much

    • profile image

      ahmad 

      4 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      soenfane kenonto 

      5 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      Iqra malik 

      5 weeks 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 weeks ago

      my research work

    • profile image

      Dominic 

      5 weeks 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 weeks ago

      My research work

    • profile image

      Tshepo Mac Donald Mosiako 

      6 weeks 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 

      6 weeks 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 

      6 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      Yasir 

      7 weeks 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 

      7 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      miss Fairhope 

      7 weeks 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 

      8 weeks ago

      Every teacher should know

    • profile image

      sofiayousef 

      2 months ago

      this really inspired me

    • profile image

      gulagha 

      2 months ago

      every teacher need to a a good charactherstic

    • profile image

      Phethego Magana 

      2 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Yolanda Mbali Mazibuko 

      2 months ago

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

    • profile image

      khan kulsum 

      2 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 

      2 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 

      2 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 

      2 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 

      2 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Amrutha Prakash 

      2 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Sera L 

      2 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. 

      2 months ago

      excellent explanation

    • profile image

      Ali Mohammed Al Lawati 

      3 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 

      3 months ago

      What an inspiring article!

    • profile image

      Richard 

      3 months ago

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

    • profile image

      John Ajayi 

      3 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 

      3 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 

      3 months ago

      thanks for all the informations , they are really helpful

    • profile image

      shukuru 

      4 months ago

      Nice!

    • profile image

      Amani Yousef 

      4 months ago

      I really enjoyed this article.

    • profile image

      Love 

      4 months ago

      Thank you, have a nice day.

    • mujamemazeingo profile image

      mujamemazeingo 

      4 months ago

      Im teacher please help me with my Assessment

    • profile image

      Nazir 

      4 months ago

      Excellent explanation

    • profile image

      girl 

      5 months ago

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

    • profile image

      molly 

      5 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 

      6 months ago

      Thanks for these points which is essential for all good teachers

    • profile image

      Hart 

      6 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Maroof 

      6 months ago

      Where is conclusion.

      Plz send conclusion

    • profile image

      Sarai 

      7 months ago

      this was very helpful

    • profile image

      David Schillo 

      7 months ago

      Very interesting article .

    • profile image

      Enock 

      7 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Miss nour 

      7 months ago

      What I need

    • profile image

      OKELLO ROBERT 

      7 months ago

      Teaching is Noble. Thanks

    • profile image

      Wa'ilu surajo 

      7 months ago

      Teaching is very good of this time thank you.

    • profile image

      Sowmiya. K 

      7 months ago

      Teaching is one profession that crests all profession

    • profile image

      Ishaka aliyu damari 

      7 months ago

      To be a teacher

    • profile image

      Ashok 

      7 months ago

      Teacher is a one who shares their knowledge to the students without any expectations except excellence.

    • profile image

      SEKAZUBA Eden 

      8 months ago

      WHAT IMPORTANT ISSUES!

      Thx

    • profile image

      Habtamu 

      8 months ago

      Great teachers know great things! Thank you!

    • profile image

      Buushan Gavhane 

      8 months ago

      Thank for these

    • profile image

      Joseph t 

      8 months ago

      Thanks for the insights .. I appreciate you very much

    • profile image

      Rushika 

      8 months ago

      Most important in life it is use full to all clear the droughts of all people also it is important etc.☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️

    • profile image

      cj 

      8 months ago

      soooooo helpful

    • profile image

      Melosha 

      9 months ago

      This information in very important for school going students

    • profile image

      Priscilla Shitima 

      9 months ago

      This information is very helpful to me a student doing a teaching course.

    • profile image

      Rafia 

      9 months ago

      Tnx

    • profile image

      Meh name is jaff 

      9 months ago

      aint noboby got time for no school

    • profile image

      Mbuthi Victor 

      10 months ago

      Thanks for this wondeful article.

      So educative, though it's not exhaustive.

      Am inspired to become one of the best teachers. I will practice the above.

    • profile image

      Agyo, Azetu Azashi 

      10 months ago

      teaching is more than just a mere profession, teaching is a dream that must be lived and fulfilled.

    • profile image

      shemsa masoud 

      10 months ago

      thanks

      I would like to add one quality of good teacher, he or she must intellectual curiosity,

      thank you for writing good academic paper

    • profile image

      Firstname Lastname 

      10 months ago

      I'm very bored. How did I get on this website again?

    • profile image

      sukhdeo thakre 

      11 months ago

      I am a student, I think teacher can have many other qualities too. But what they have interpreted is very good. I think you will be a good teacher. Thank you for writing this article.

    • profile image

      Hassan Ayuba Darma 

      11 months ago

      Thanks very much for listed 7 qualities of a good teacher. Due to appreciates of this listed I will try to add two. 1. Punctuality 2.Decent dress. Bye

    • profile image

      Nangobi Babrah 

      11 months ago

      Great job done thanks alot

    • profile image

      Shamsu Abdussalam 

      11 months ago

      Thank you very goods

    • profile image

      Pauly Kannookadan 

      11 months ago

      I appreciate the characteristics mentioned above to be a good teacher. I want add one more - 8. Spirituality in Life. One who have the Characteristic of trusting in God. God is the source of wisdom.

    • profile image

      KEKETSO 

      11 months ago

      INTERESTING

    • profile image

      Adris 

      11 months ago

      A good Teacher should be active and talkative person and makes students active .

    • profile image

      Michaella KISOKAU 

      12 months ago

      Thanks so much, to me that was interesting. By now I can able to see any weaknesses in teachers and I feel the rights of encourage my fellow friends and relative who is a teacher too if he or she lacks in some qualify character of a teacher. And if some day some how I ended up to be a teacher, at list I had further ideas of how am I gonna perform my character in the eyes of my students that they would say to themselves that I;m their best teacher. Thanks....very inspiring article. You're the best Mr Syed Hunbbel Meer......

    • profile image

      Moyagabo Johanna 

      12 months ago

      Great! this are really the characteristics of a good teacher

      , if all teacher were like this there will be effective teaching in this world that contribute toward the future of the young ones

    • profile image

      Haven 

      12 months ago

      Interesting

    • profile image

      kabogoza james 

      12 months ago

      he should be able to use his environment in his examples.

    • profile image

      Shuddup 

      12 months ago

      maybe you should use gender neutral terms next time

    • profile image

      Irfan 

      12 months ago

      Very helpful information

    • profile image

      Sania 

      12 months ago

      This is really helpful. My teacher asked to write some positive and negative points of her. I was confused what to write or not. This helped me a lot in confusion.

    • profile image

      Tshepo Maroga 

      13 months ago

      Thanks for the educative tips, your the best

    • profile image

      Nghĩa 

      13 months ago

      i love so much

    • profile image

      Tawakalit 

      13 months ago

      pls I just got admission into one of our college of education, an my writing and reading are not stand. How can you help me out

    • profile image

      SEREKI GORDON 

      13 months ago

      I LOVE EDUCATION BECAUSE THROUGH EDUCATION I SEE PLACES THAT ARE NOT SEEN BY OTHER PEOPLE.

    • profile image

      Molly 

      13 months ago

      I really thought that this information was helpful. It helped me relize what I like in teachers.

    • profile image

      arigumaho810@gmail.com 

      13 months ago

      wonderful

    • profile image

      lourinah 

      13 months ago

      characteristics and requirements that make a good teacher

    • profile image

      Tochilex 

      14 months ago

      A good teacher should also know how to pass information clearly.. Falls under good communication, but more to it..

    • profile image

      Snehalatasamal11@gmail.com 

      14 months ago

      Very good

    • profile image

      James 

      14 months ago

      what are characteristics of a teacher

    • profile image

      Good 

      14 months ago

      Very good

    • profile image

      shakti 

      14 months ago

      Teacher must have a ability to know students level of understanding

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