What makes a good effective teacher? Or, more specifically, what are the qualities of a good teacher? What are those subtle, and sometimes identifiable, characteristics that make up a great teacher? As a teacher, I know that teaching is a satisfying and incredibly rewarding career path for those people that do it well.
Although I’m not the overall best teacher, my passion and art of teaching are the secret weapons that make the vast majority of my students love me. The results: Well, you guessed it. My students are always the best and good things usually happen in my class.
Now, decades ago when I was a student myself, my understanding of what a good teacher really was, was definitely someone who provides a lot of classroom entertainment and gave little to no homework. However, after years of higher education and graduation as a professional teacher, not forgetting to evaluate hundreds of teachers, my perspective has changed.
With all the skills and experience that I’ve gathered over the years, I have learned that teaching is a concoction of hard work, desire, and passion. It’s when a teacher works tirelessly to create a challenging and nurturing environment for their students to make a better version of them. So, with that said, whether you’re a teacher in an elementary school or a university professor, here are 20 observable characteristics every effective teacher should possess.
20 Qualities of a Good Teacher: Every Effective Teacher Should Possess
1. Communication Skills
Effective and remarkable communication is one of the most critical tools any enthusiast professional should have in most intimate environments. It’s what cements a memorable relationship between you and the people around you.
When it comes to teaching, this skill becomes an integral part of professional teaching as it is what builds a strong teacher-student rapport. Not only to students (of all ages), but good communication skills enable a teacher to build a solid relationship between them and their colleagues, parents, and administrators.
Now, knowledge is one skill every teacher possesses. However, passing that knowledge to your students in the simplest form possible is what makes a quality teacher. You see, teachers with excellent communication skills can constructively express complex knowledge verbally, visually, by writing and through body movement to ensure that they convert the complex ideas into a simplified language that all students will understand.
Such teachers can notice a complex concept and be able to paraphrase it in a simpler language as well as identify those students who are still in the dark.
With such a skill, a teacher can also cover a particular curriculum in an organized manner. They’re also able to express their expectations quite easily when giving out homework in a way that every student will be able to meet the required expectations.
2. Good Listening Skills
When we were young, our grandma would tell us of a Turkish proverb that says“If Speaking is Silver, then Listening is Gold”. Now, an ordinary teacher teaches while the students listen. However, an extraordinary teacher spares some time to listen to how the students answer the various questions or even ask questions after a lesson.
By doing this, a teacher can evaluate his or her students by categorizing their various IQ levels. This way, you’re able to understand every student perfectly well, from those who are fast learners, intermediates to those that are slow learners.
Teachers who have mastered this patient quality understand pretty well how to paraphrase their ideas. They know what will work and what will not work for their students. They know what to employ during classwork and they know how to improve their communication to ensure that each student understands that particular concept the easiest way possible.
Through listening, teachers can create a conducive environment for their students as well as an extra room for improvement. After all, Aristotle was not wrong when he mentioned: “Those Who Know, Do, And Those Who Understand, Teach”.
Approachability is definite to a friendly attitude both of which are important qualities of a good teacher. Now, it’s a teacher’s responsibility to be strict and to ensure that students follow the given rules to the latter. On the other hand, a teacher should not be too strict to the students to a point of creating a barrier between them and the students.
You see, students, especially those at the elementary level, are very sensitive and can develop a sense of fear if they’re scolded. This will make them view the teacher as an enemy thus make it extremely hard for them to approach their teachers in case of assistance.
So, to avoid this, a teacher should express a friendly approachable attitude to their students to boost their confidence and ease the tense environment around them. By doing this, a strong teacher-student bond will be created which will allow students to ask some of their most disturbing questions without fear of being scolded.
In some cases, this openness gets to the point of students sharing some of their painful and extremely stressful experiences that are the cause of their poor performances. So, by being friendly and approachable, a teacher can even end up being a psychological counselor and handle even more delicate matters outside education such as emotional and spiritual guidance.
In the world of teaching, patience is more of a virtue and it’s among those factors that show a quality teacher. As a teacher, especially in the primary and secondary settings, understanding your students is very critical.
There are those students who will be focused and ever ready to learn and there are those students who will be indolent, immature, and low in discipline. In the same class, there are those students who will be fast learners and those who will take time to comprehend what they’retaught.
Therefore, by putting this into consideration, a patient teacher will be able to adapt well to the various dynamics of teaching. By combining this factor with effective communication skills, you will manage to interact, communicate and teach students in different learning environments.
Just to add to this, a teacher is a role model. Therefore, if you fail to be patient with your students, you’ll end up exposing your teaching shortcomings which can be frustrating at the end.
5. Well Organized
No matter how charming a teacher might be, lack of proper preparation and organization skills means that you’re next to being a failure. According to James Stronge’s book “Qualities of Effective Teachers”, spending extra hours outside of class organizing and preparing the necessary materials to use in your next subject matter is one quality of effective teaching.
But, what exactly is preparation and how can it impact your confidence when teaching a particular concept?
- Knowledge: The first factor is knowledge. Here, a teacher is required to be an expert in the specific field he/she is teaching. He/she must be able to understand the concept, the debates and the various processes of inquiry of that specific subject matter.
- Disposition: After having the right knowledge, a teacher must be able to understand the complex dynamics that revolve around the specific subject matter. He/she must, therefore, keep track and stay updated on any new ideas and concepts about the topics.
- Performance: Finally, a teacher should be creative enough to identify and use simple representations to explain the complex concepts in a simple language that will be easier for every student to comprehend and understand.
In addition to that, a well-prepared and organized teacher will organize lessons, plan for lectures, give assignments, and at the same time, manage to mark students’ work on time.
6. Doesn’t Show Favoritism
This is another critical factor that has managed to make its way in our list of good qualities of a teacher. Favoritism is one factor that can really lower the studying morale of a student while still ruining students’ confidence towards their teachers.
So, to prevent any of these issues, it’s paramount that teachers give students equal opportunities to particulate in various classwork activities.
This pointer should also apply to how teachers offer grades to their students. They should always be transparent when grading their students and even involve parents in school activities by giving them a chance to offer their honest and constructive criticism.
Just to add to this, a lack of favoritism builds a strong relationship based on trust between a teacher and the students. Although it isn’t emphasized in any teaching policies, gaining trust from your students allows them to open up even more to a point of sharing some of their most disturbing issues.
Respect and maturity go hand in hand. It’s also a two-way traffic that cements the relationship between teachers and their students. Respect doesn’t just apply to teaching alone. It’s also a key quality in other professional fields of work that can greatly impact how you interact with your peers and workmates.
Back to class, respect is key when it comes to handling your students. When combined with patience and maturity, respect allows you to understand the various emotional vicissitudes of your students and offers a way on how to handle them.
For instance, a teacher is not supposed to threaten or mock his/her students. They’re also not supposed to bully or disrespect students in any way simply because they asked a question or failed to solve a complex mathematical concept.
By doing this, you’ll be damaging your students psychologically as well as ruining your reputation as a teacher which can damage your career.
Therefore, a teacher should be respectful towards his/her students to guarantee effective learning. Since you’re a role model, your students too will learn how to respect each other thus creating a conducive learning environment.
Finally, about respect, teachers should also learn how to respect the parents and their administrators. They should also praise the various institutions that have employed them to build a lasting relationship in their respective workplaces.
8. Knows Their Students Pretty Well
Having proper knowledge of your students is a rather wide topic that every enthusiastic teacher should adapt to. First, throughout the number of months you’ll spend with your students, a teacher should master student names and make an effort of knowing their students pretty well including their character traits.
On the other hand, a teacher should understand the various developmental stages of their students ranging from cognitive, social to emotional developments. By doing so, you’ll be able to handle your students differently depending on where they lie in the chart board.
You’ll also be able to track each student’s progression trajectory as well as differentiate fast learning students from those that are slow learners. For those regions that rely on the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), having the right knowledge of your learners will allow you to identify individual abilities of your students which is very important during their developmental stages.
Another feature that makes up a quality teacher is enthusiasm or rather a great love for teaching. As a teacher myself, one of the factors that make me stand out as a quality teacher is my passion and desire to teach.
With a quest to renew myself, I often find myself learning new strategies that make me quite dynamic in handling students in various teaching environments. This strategy also helps teachers to inspire their students in various ways as well as know how to prepare various course materials when teaching complex subjects.
For those teachers who incorporate various technologies in their lessons (for simplicity purposes), having the passion to teach allows you to learn new teaching strategies that make you more confident and resourceful to your students.
10. Sets High Expectations
According to the book “High Expectation Teaching”, the author Jon Saphier, mentions, “Praising low quality work only leads to low expectations”. In other words, a teacher’s expectations can really impact the overall achievement of a student.
The best educators always expect the best out of their students even after knowing that those expectations are quite challenging depending on the situation at hand. By setting realistic goals and ensuring that each student performs to their level best, a quality teacher knows that he/she will eventually achieve those expectations.
Fortunately, there are a few ways by which teachers can achieve their targets without putting too much pressure on both themselves and their students.
- Provide Feedback: One of those is providing skillful feedback to each of your students. With such feedback, you won’t necessarily specify whether the performance was great or not, but you’ll generally create a sense of self-correction and self-adjustment to your students.
- Reacting to Change in Performance: In case, you detect a U-turn in any of your students’ performance, notifying them about your future expectations in a calm way is among those ways you can show the qualities of a good teacher. You can use calm words such as “I know you’re capable of achieving higher” to boost the morale of your students without them feeling pressured.
- Don’tPraise Low Grades: You see, if you happen to praise low quality work, what you’ll get are low grades and expectations. Instead, hit the nail on the head by being honest with your students. This way, you’ll manage to push underperforming students (by encouraging them) to meet the required standards.
11. Role Model
According to the qualities of a good teacher essay, an effective teacher is one who leads by example. Apart from just teaching, a teacher should present him/herself in the right way so that the students can follow suit.
Such a teacher should influence students positively to ensure that they meet the required expectations. If it’s about punctuality, the teacher should attend classes early to motivate students to do the same. If it’s about discipline, a teacher should not tolerate any violation of set rules whatsoever.
Creating positive discipline in class such as wearing full uniform, observing cleanliness and completing assignments on time are all part of discipline skills each teacher should introduce to their students. So, by first following each of these set rules, then you become a role model to your students which will then help you to manage your class effectively.
12. Strong Work Ethics
This is another key quality of an effective teacher. As you all know, teaching is a tricky endeavor that involves dealing with students of all calibers. So, no matter how hard it might sound, teachers with strong working ethics will never quite but will rather work harder and harder to bring out the best from their students.
Such teachers are able to monitor their students’ behaviors in the classroom setting as well as avoid simple mistakes such as picking phone calls during class time, using disrespectful language towards the students and being unfair when it comes to grading students’ performance.
Since a teacher is also a leader and a role model, avoiding some of these mistakes will allow your students to follow suit and become more professional, responsible and prepared.
13. Practices Self-Reflection
Self-reflection and evaluation is another quality a good teacher should possess. According to a 2010 study regarding critical reflection, it declared that teachers should continually evaluate their practices, effectiveness, attitude, and accomplishments. By doing this, they can easily understand their strength and weakness as well as understand how their style of teaching impacts their students.
It also allows you to strategize yourself as well as incorporate new teaching styles which students will understand quicker. Self-reflection also enables you to accept past mistakes and blunders such as making poor decisions and judgments. So, how can you self-evaluate yourself?
- Peer Observation: This is a smart strategy that allows teachers and instructors to view and access each other’s teaching strategies. It provides a platform where teachers can discuss their observations by giving honest feedback and providing options for the different methodologies they can try out.
- Using a Journal: Another strategy that can really work is by using a journal as a tool. Here, you can record your daily learning experiences including the good and the bad things that happened. From there, you can revise the journal to identify what strengths and weaknesses came up and what needs to be adjusted.
- Recordings: This is by far one of the best ways by which you can capture the dynamics of your classroom activities. It allows you to capture all the daily classroom activities including those you didn’t notice to those you forgot.
14. Encourages Teamwork
In most workplaces, teamwork is an integral feature that defines their overall success. In class, a quality teacher can adopt a similar strategy to build a supportive and collaborative environment. As we mentioned earlier, an effective teacher should open up to their students to form a solid teacher-student relationship.
Applying the same principle here, a teacher can create a sense of community in a class by first connecting with the students to build a mutually respectful relationship. From there, the students will follow suit by respecting each other.
Finally, after building a community environment, a teacher can then introduce some rules to be followed and assign each student a role to play in class to make them feel involved and valued.
15. Instills Confidence
This is another key point that clearly demonstrates the professional qualities of a teacher. But first, before a teacher can instill confidence in their students, he/she must be confident enough when teaching. After all, how can you stand in front of a class to teach and answer their questions if you’re not confident?
So, once you’re confident, you can now go ahead to instill confidence in your students. Now, according to the book “50 Ways to Improve Students Behavior”, Todd Whitaker, an elementary level teacher highlights that lack of confidence is one of the greatest obstacles of any student’s performance.
He continues to mention that some of the reasons that lower most students’ level of confidence is when they realize that both their teachers and their parents don’t actually believe in them. This attitude is the main reason why most students suffer from severe academic problems.
With this in mind, a quality teacher will gather creative skills that they will use to instill confidence in their students. They can decide to set realistic goals together with the students, reassure them of how much they believe in them and finally, involve them in various classwork activities such as practical.
16. Sense of Humor
Now, this is not a quality really, but it’s more of an advantage to those teachers that have it. You see, a sense of humor comes out naturally and its either you have it or you don’t. however, to those teachers who are lucky enough to be humorous, teaching gets really fun as you’re able to catch the minds of your students by making the discussions more interesting.
Also, it allows you to pass a more complex concept in a simplified and funny way for every student to understand. It also makes students remember things much faster as they tend to remember something funny you mentioned during classwork.
Something else about humorous teachers is that they tend to drive away the tense mood in a class allowing students to breathe and feel free. It also creates friendliness, approachability, and allows teachers to develop a stronger relationship between them and their students.
17. Manages Classroom Effectively
Now, a teacher can have all the required qualities such as preparedness, patience, approachability and great communication skills. However, he/she can easily fail to deliver if they’re not able to manage their students effectively. A quality teacher should hence be able to multitask.
Apart from following the curriculum to the latter, an effective teacher should have an extra pair of eyes on the back to monitor those students that are misbehaving in class. Alongside being organized, such teachers should be able to organize their students as well as arrange learning materials in a way that no single student is left behind.
18. Appreciates in Public and Corrects in Private
This quality is quite similar to some of those teacher qualities we’ve already mentioned here. First, a teacher that appreciates their students in public tends to boost the learning morale of such students. It gives students high self-esteem and a sense of superiority towards others.
Secondly, by correcting misbehaving students in private, you tend to create a friendly environment. To some extent, your students might even open up and discuss some potential reasons as to why they misbehave. Otherwise, correcting your students in public will make them feel ashamed in front of their classmates which can make things even worse.
19. Incorporates Values in Lessons
Did you know that interpersonal skills can turn an average teacher into a professional educator? Well, an average teacher might have all the above qualities. However, an extraordinary teacher will incorporate some values in basic classroom activities by relating their lessons to real-life events.
This not only cements the teacher-student relationship, but it also makes your students more attentive and more enthusiastic. In the end, you end up with a class of morally upright students who become responsible people in the future.
20. Leaves a Positive Impact
Last but not least, a quality teacher will leave a positive impact on your future life. Although your teacher might force you to follow strict guidelines and sometimes punish you for failing to meet certain deadlines, later on in life, you’ll come to realize that it all happened for your own good. An effective teacher will hence mold his/her students to become responsible people who can bring change in their respective societies.
Tips to Keep Teachers Motivated
Now that we’ve discussed 20 essential qualities of good teachers, we thought it would be best if we could spare some time to discuss just five ways in which students, parents and school administrators can effectively motivate their teachers to boost their teaching morale.
Give Them a Voice:
Teachers are leaders and leaving them out when making critical decisions regarding them is one way of demotivating them. So, to give them that voice of superiority, school administrators should invite teachers, at least one from every grade, to represent the rest by giving their opinions and proposed strategies about how to cover the curriculum.
Another important tip for school administrators, parents and students alike is respecting their teachers. You see, teachers are professionals in the field of teaching and by respecting them, you actually show them how much you understand the heavy burden they shoulder. Therefore, avoid using disrespectful words when addressing them or else you’ll end up ruining their relationship with the students.
Give Them the Right Tools to Success:
Now, every teacher has his/her own specific teaching strategy. Due to this reason, every teacher will require specific tools to spice up the various teaching techniques. So, to give them the right morale, school administrators should provide teachers with the right tools to accomplish their teaching goals.
Pay Them Well:
If you happen to do some research, you’ll be amazed to discover that teachers earn less as compared to similar professionals working in other fields. This is quite a shame considering the great impact teachers have for the future generation. Although there’s a lot to be debated about when it comes to increasing teachers’ salaries, I think they should get what they deserve.
Finally, rewarding teachers for a job well done is another effective way you can up their teaching morale. Now, there are many ways you can do this. One, administrators can create a teaching trophy that can be awarded to the teacher heading the most improved class or subject. The trophy can be awarded once every week or every month.
Secondly, enthusiastic parents can opt to join in to offer performing teachers small tokens of appreciation such as coffee shop gift cards, shopping vouchers or other smaller gifts such as cakes and treats. No matter how small they might seem to be, the fact that they represent appreciation is enough to arouse the teaching spirit of a teacher.
As you can see, the qualities of effective teachers are endless. They’re actually thousands if not hundreds of them. The reason for that is because teaching is a diverse and dynamic field that is composed of so many dimensions.
To those who are born leaders, these qualities shine naturally. However, to those pursuing teaching as a career, you have to work really hard to master those qualities of an effective teacher.
Thankfully, the best thing about it is that the payoff is really enormous both to you as a teacher and to your students as they’re the future leaders.