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The Top 10 Qualities Of A Good Teacher

“My mission is to experience life through…teaching others.” I don’t want to be a run-of-the-mill

boring teacher, though. Not like the “substitute teachers” of my school days. But what makes a
good teacher?
We all know good teachers when we see them and bad teachers too. I thought back over the
teachers I’d loved and why I loved them. There were only a few, but they all had the following
qualities in common.

1. Confidence. Belief in ourselves despite setbacks. Teachers encounter situations all the time
that could be considered setbacks. Kids can be cruel, to each other and to teachers. They can
have attitudes, especially teenagers. I’ve had teachers to were obviously nervous when they
taught. Others were shy and only half committed to their subject. But the best teachers laughed
off their mistakes: chalk breaking, books dropped, TVs not working. Where some teachers
were flustered, the good teachers shrugged and went on about the lesson, sometimes even
joking about the mess up. These teachers knew they were human and knew mistakes happen.
They didn’t take things personally and let problems get them upset.

2. Patience. Some of my best teachers could have helped students through a mental breakdown.
Not that they had to, but that they were so patient, they could have gone the distance. Many a
time I, or classmate, would just not be “getting” a particular concept. My best teachers were
those who were willing to keep explaining, knowing that eventually it would make sense. They
were willing to wait until a distraction calmed students down, or abandon a lesson entirely if it
was clear material needed to be revisited. The best teachers just stuck with it, willing to do
what it took, no matter how long it took.

3. True compassion for their students. I’m sure we’ve all encountered a bad teacher who didn’t
care what our excuse was. Certainly, some excuses weren’t valid, but many were. The best
teachers cared about their students as individuals and wanted to help them. They had a sixth
sense when a student needed extra attention and gave it gladly. They didn’t expect students to
leave thoughts of the outside world at the door to the classroom. They took the time to discuss
subjects outside their teaching, knowing that sometimes lessons can still be taught without
following the textbook. Good teachers were willing to speak up for us to other teachers, if need
be. They cared about us beyond the walls of their classroom.

4. Understanding.
Good teachers
understanding –
not only the
sixth sense
above, but true
understanding of
how to teach.
They didn’t have
a rigid technique that they insisted on using even if it didn’t help us learn. They were flexible
in their teaching style, adapting daily if need be. They understood the little things that affected
our ability to learn; the weather, the temperature in the classroom, the time of day. They had an
understanding of human nature and the maturity (or lack thereof) of teenagers. Good teachers
knew that we hated to be called “young” and therefore pre-judged. They treated us as real
people, not just “students.”

5. The ability to look at life in a different way and to explain a topic in a different
way. There are many different learning styles. Not everyone gets a subject as taught by every
teacher. I’ve taken subjects (chemistry for instance) many times, at many different levels, by
many different teachers. I took College Organic Chemistry three times from three different
teachers. I can tell you from experience that it was more the skill of the third teacher than the
third time taking the class that allowed me to pass. Bad teachers only look a subject matter one
way. They teach based on how they learn. This works for some people, but fails for others. The
good teachers are ones that are able to teach to different learning styles. If students don’t
understand a subject, they teach it a different way. Instead of looking at abstract formulas, they
explain with images what the formulas represent. This requires a through understand of their
subject, as well as the ability to consider that subject in different ways, which not all teachers
are able to do. This principle applies whether a teacher or professor teaches Organic Chemistry
or business classes online; it comes down to their ability to be flexible.

6. Dedication to excellence. Good teachers want the best from their students and themselves.
They don’t settle for poor grades, knowing it reflects upon their ability to teach just as much
upon a student’s ability to excel. The best teachers encourage the sharing of ideas and offer
incentives (like not having to do homework for a day) to get students to think outside the box.
They don’t tolerate students’ badmouthing other teachers, doing their best to point out that
other teachers are human too. They encourage students to be good people, not just good
memorizers of text. They want students to learn and be able to apply what they learned, not just
be able to pass tests.

7. Unwavering support. The best teachers know that everyone is able to do well if they have the
right teacher. They don’t accept that a student is a lost cause. They encourage if you are
frustrated and provide true belief that you can get the material. They stand up for individuals
against other students, not allowing for in class taunting. Sometimes, they even extend this
outside the classroom, although taunts in the hallways are very hard for teachers to combat.
The best teachers are there if you need extra help and even encourage it.

8. Willingness to help student achieve. The best teachers are those that don’t stop teaching
when the bell rings. They hold extra sessions for SAT prep, they reach out to students after
class. They know that some need extra attention or assistance, and they don’t act like it’s not
their job. They take that job seriously and know they aren’t just employed to get students to be
able to do higher math, but do well in life. They realize that achievement isn’t just a good
grade on a test, but a feeling of accomplishment with mastering a subject; they are willing to
work with a student for that feeling.

9. Pride in student’s accomplishments. The best teachers let you know they are glad you got a
good grade or made the honor’s society. They smile and tell you that you did a good job. They
tell other teachers about how you did as well. Outside you may feel embarrassed, but inside
you are glowing. The best teachers don’t single out the best students either. They celebrate the
accomplishments of everyone, knowing that everyone is capable to doing well. They are
upbeat and
focusing on how
a student did
well, not how
well they taught.
They may know
that it was the
strength of their
teaching that
helped a student
to achieve, but
they act as if the
student is

10. Passion for

life. The best teachers aren’t just interested in their subject, they are passionate about it. They
are also passionate about many other things. They praise good weather and smile when they
take a few minutes to discuss last night’s episode of a popular TV show. They have an energy
that almost makes them glow and that you want to emulate as much as possible. They approach
tasks with a sense of challenge rather than routine. They take the universe’s curve balls and
turn them into fun (if possible). They are human, certainly, but they make you feel that there is
always a reason to keep going. Things will get better no matter how much they appear to suck
at that moment.
As may be clear from the above, the best teacher I ever had was a math teacher. She was all the
more exceptional because math is the one subject I hate the most. She told us to call her “Aunt
Jackie,” but I had way too much respect to call her anything but “Mrs. Lamp.” She is now a
principal of a different High School than she taught at when I was her student, and I suspect
she is as good a principal as she was a math teacher.

How To Gain The Respect Of Your Students & Make Classes Interesting
This guide is basically divided into two sections - how to earn the respect of your students, and
how to make your classes interesting.

How To Earn The Respect Of Your Students

There seems to be a common misconception among teachers that being respected by your students
means that they "shut up and do everything you command". You could probably do it this way if
you want, but I assure you, your students will despise your class.

The basic first step to earn their respect is to simply be nice to them. Now, this doesn't mean
you should let them walk all over you, but it does mean you shouldn't walk all over them either.
You will need to attain some sort of balance. First of all, if you are having a bad day (as we all do
from time to time), the best would be to tell your class, so that they can be careful to not aggravate
you. That of course doesn't mean someone won't annoy you, but if this happens then at least an
angry outburst from you won't be completely unexpected, and since you announced it to begin
with, the others should be more likely to accept your apology if you took it out on someone
undeserving. Also accept that some of your students may be having a bad day as well, and treat
them the way you would want to be treated in such a situation.

Encourage your students to call you by your first name instead of Mr/Mrs etc. This creates a
more friendly atmosphere and helps to do away with the idea that you're an authority figure over
them, and will encourage them to be more open and friendly with you.

Try to get to know your students individually. Get to know what they like/dislike, their ideas
and needs. This can be a lot of work, especially if you teach at a large school, but if you can grade
all that homework and keep track of who the good/bad kids are, you should be able to remember a
few personal traits as well.

Be honest with your students. Especially when they ask things like "When will I ever use this in
real life?". One thing a lot of kids hate is when teachers tell them that it's important to know things
like the formula for a parabola. Most people will never use that knowledge again.

Grade things on time. Just as you would expect your students to hand projects in on time, you
should set the example by being timely yourself. If you don't grade things on time, then be sure to
give your students the same leeway as well.

Don't censor yourself too much. Most students actually like a teacher that swears a little every
now and then. On the other hand, don't attempt slang unless you're totally comfortable with it.

Stand up for your students. If you see them being pushed around or bullied by other students or
teachers, try to end the conflict, or at least tell the attacker to calm down.

Also, for male teachers: girls occasionally have something called a "period". It means they
have to use the restroom more frequently, and females greatly appreciate the allowance of restroom
use to "fix themselves up".
Once you've earned the respect of your students, be sure to keep it! Make jokes, fool around a bit
when the time is right - try to keep it casual.

How To Make Your Classes Interesting

Whenever possible, give your students choices as to what they would like to do and how they want
to do it. For example, after covering a section of work, ask them if they'd rather write a test, have a
discussion or do a worksheet on it. You could even divide the class according to what they'd rather
do, and let them do that. This also counts for projects and papers. Try to avoid giving the whole
class the same topic, unless you have to. Even then try to give them as much leeway as possible.

Try to come up with other ways of presenting things instead of sticking to lesson plans or text
books. If you just stand in the front and lecture the whole time, the chances of anyone paying
attention are slim.

Also, don't be too eager to offer help to a student, but do make it clear that if they want help they
should ask. Some kids like to figure things out for themselves, while others prefer to be told how to
do it.

Don't place too much emphasis on keeping your class quiet. Some students will want to help each
other or work together, this is a good thing. In fact, don't be the only one talking. Encourage
discussion. Let your students interrupt you from time to time to discuss a point. Don't worry if you
end up straying off the point a little, just try to keep track of where you were and don't let it go too
far. Allow students to move around and sit next to a friend, as long as they do all their work and
don't cause major disruptions.

Don't worry about drinks or food in class as long as the class stays clean. If someone makes a
mess, they should clean it up themselves right then and there.

Some people work faster and better if there is music. Since not everyone has the same taste in
music, allow your students to listen to whatever they like with headphones on, as long as it's not
too loud.

Let students start their homework in your class. This way it becomes more like classwork, and
whatever isn't finished by the end of class becomes homework. This way whoever works quickly
in class doesn't get homework. The other benefit of this is that you are still there to help them,
should they need something explained. I have heard so many complaints by kids who sat up all
night trying to finish some math homework that they didn't understand how to do in the first place.
Also, be lenient - ask your students if they've already received homework for other classes, and
how much of it. If they already have a lot, don't give more. The best option would be to just never
give any homework, unless the subject in question is something like math where practice is

With regard to assignments, try to work out due dates with other teachers so that students don't get
overworked with assignments on different subjects all at the same time.