81. What Makes a Great Teacher?

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This is a guest post written by Lori Hutchison from www.mastersinteaching.net. I’m sure you’ll agree it is a very interesting article. Thank you Lori! If you’re interested in training to become a teacher, please visit her page for more information (see link at the bottom of this document.) Expect an episode of Luke’s English Podcast on this topic in the near future.

Five Common Characteristics of Highly Effective Teachers
Throughout the years, there have been teachers who have made history for their unique teaching styles, their intelligence and their ability to change people’s perspectives on education. Famous teachers in history (like Confucius, Friedrich Froebel and Maya Angelou) may all come from different times and different parts of the world, but they all have some common characteristics.

These common characteristics are what make them such great teachers and guides. Although particular traits do not guarantee that someone will be a great teacher, they do provide a supporting foundation. Listed below are the five common characteristics of highly effective teachers:

1. A passionate approach: No matter what the technique or method, a teacher must fully believe in their teaching philosophy. If a teacher is only teaching by the book and not from the heart, it will be much more difficult to get through to students. Some subjects do not seem important or fun to learn, but good teachers know how to turn “boring” topics into extraordinary topics. They are always trying to spark interest in the minds of their students and create that “eureka!” moment.

2. A strong position on classroom organization and discipline: Any teacher increases their students’ chances for success when they manage their classroom in an organized manner. In addition, great teachers verbalize to their students exactly what they expect from them in terms of academics and behavior. Great teachers also have a well-defined position on classroom discipline and practice a firm yet gentle approach to student correction. They are also fair and treat all students equally.

3. Attentiveness: Great teachers know how to read their students’ body language. They recognize when a student is struggling with a particular subject or personal problem, and they always do what they can to help their students find solutions to their struggles. Great teachers truly care about their students’ success, and they know that the likelihood for success increases when the teacher pays great attention to the student’s progression.

4. The ability to empathize: In addition to constant attention to their students’ progression, great teachers also practice empathy. Because everyone struggles at some point, teachers need the ability to stop, listen and understand a student’s academic or personal roadblock. More important than understanding, though, great teachers know how to build up their students’ confidence and realize their potential. They also have the ability to recognize when a particular teaching method is not working for a student and can change the approach to fit the student’s particular learning needs.

5. Patience: When it comes to teaching and learning, great teachers have an unlimited capacity for perseverance and composure. They understand that every student learns at a different rate and through different means, and they are willing to work until all understand.

All of the above characteristics can be learned and practiced by every teacher interested in becoming better at their profession. However, one should not fret if they have a difficult time making these characteristics habit. Perhaps the most important feature of a great teacher is being an upstanding citizen and good role model for youth.

Lori Hutchison teaches high school English and owns the site Masters in Teaching. In her spare time, she enjoys writing guest blog posts about various topics of interest; especially teaching!

  • Anonymous

    If you are not a great teacher yet I am convinced you’ll become one eventually! -:)

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  • Sergio Oshiro

    I’m trying very hard to overcome the difficulties I have to face each time I get into the classroom. Thank you very much indeed

  • Sergio Oshiro

    TeacherLuke, thanks for the article -” What makes a great teacher?”
    Some years ago I got the “Cote” – Cambridge Certificate for Overseas Teachers of English, and I would like to thank you for this great article.
    I’m trying very hard to overcome the difficulties I have to face each time I get into the classroom. Thank you very much indeed!

  • yes! Good job! :)

  • Hello!
    Your blog is awesome and so is your podcast! And I really enjoy it. But…
    When I open the home page of you blog, all articles are displayed on it. Some of them contain embedded video (flash player), which results in very low performance.
    Please, can you modify the theme of you blog so that there is not heavy content on your home page (you can display the topics of the articles, but not the whole content of each one).

    Best regards, Anton Danshin

    • Hi Anton, I know exactly what you mean. I’m working on it!
      By the way, are you talking about my WordPress page (this one) or my Podomatic page?

      • Your wordpress page. Podomatic page is also rather heavy but it works quickly in my browser.

      • I’ll see what I can do.

      • I’ve changed the first page of the blog. Have a look. Is that better?

  • ksks

    omg, i certainly wouldn’t make a good teacher :)