1. Education

Top Qualities of a Great Teacher

Eight Qualities a Great Teacher Should Have


Are great teachers born or made? This is a question that many new teachers have asked themselves over the years as they question their own abilities. The truth is that each individual who decides to become a teacher can become truly great if they set their minds to it, find great role models, and work hard each and every teaching day to get better. No teacher is perfect. Even teachers who you might think are great make mistakes. Your goal should not be perfection, but improvement. The following list shows eight qualities that make up a great teacher. The best teachers strive to improve in these qualities as they go about their daily teaching career.

1. Love and understanding of children

The love that is spoken of here is one of principle. This love is not the same as the love for someone who loves us or the love of an object because of its beauty. In fact, it is easy to love children who have good manners and are happy and involved. The real task for the teacher is to love students who are not as "lovable." They might be mean, sullen, even deceitful. If a teacher is able to find a way to love and understand this child, there might be a way to help him or her thrive. The best way to gain this sort of love is to learn more about the child. They are the way they are because of everything that has happened in their life. Once you can love all children, then you can set them free. Your class can become a haven for learning.

2. Kind-heartedness and compassion

While teachers must have classroom rules and consequences for misbehavior, this does not mean that a teacher should be kind and compassionate. Consistently following classroom rules and procedures for all students helps everyone see that you are fair. You can do this with a compassionate soul, not giving out unfair punishments; making sure that punishments fit misbehaviors. When a teacher loses that essential kindness and compassion towards their fellow humnan beings, then your class becomes little more than a stepping stone towards a diploma.

3. Ability to communicate their love of knowledge and learning

It goes without saying that a teacher needs to love not only the subject they teach, but also learning in general. This can be difficult when you are assigned to teach a subject that is not your favorite, for example being given economics when your love is history. However, if this happens it is key that you "fake it to make it." Don't let kids know that it is not your favorite subject. Present the material as if it is your favorite so that kids won't be influenced by your own prejudices.

4. Great enthusiasm combined with a good imagination

Students learn more from enthusiastic teachers. The image of the teacher in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" saying "Bueller, Bueller" over and over again is a model for what not to do. Obviously, poetic license was taken in the movie; thankfully, most teachers are not that bad. However, many teachers do nothing more than stand at the front of the class and lecture or give students busy work to do each day.

5. Considerable fluency of speech combined with the powers of illustration

Teachers need to be able to communicate information and knowledge to their students. The best way to do this is by providing them with multiple illustrations as necessary. The more that a subject can not only be brought to life but also be connected to the students' lives, the more likely that learning will occur.

6. Strong belief in the importance of instruction for the betterment of all

Over and above a love of learning, teachers need to believe that school is the best way to help individuals rise above their present circumstances. This does not mean that you have to believe that all students need to go to college to succeed. There are excellent plumbers and electricians earning way more than I do as a teacher. However, what it does mean is that you need to believe that the lessons taught in school about scholarship, meeting deadlines, and learning how to behave in a formal setting among other things are important for the rest of your students' lives.

7. Great powers of observation

Observation of students is often underrated. However, the best teachers can head off problems or can recognize when students need extra help just through simple observation. Instead of just presenting material and checking out for the rest of the class, teachers should make an effort to observe their students, how they are behaving when they walk in, whether they are participating in class, etc. This knowledge can then help them make better day-to-day decisions.

8. Willingness to reflect and modify instruction

The best teachers take the time to reflect about what is working and what isn't and then find ways to improve. They might get involved in professional development activities. They try and keep up with new scholarship into teaching techniques and brain theory. Their willingness to modify what they are doing shows that they want what is best for their students.
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Secondary Education
  4. Teacher Education
  5. What Qualities Make a Great Teacher?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.