10 Traits of a Great Teacher

Teaching is one of the most important professions in every country in the world.  It determines personal and national development in every sphere of activity.  There are good and bad teachers who inspire or demotivate students.  One has to be careful in selecting teachers since they can either improve or hinder the instructional process.  Fortunately, most teachers show commitment to the task.  After considering various literature reviews and my own experience as a former principal, I have chosen the following 10 traits which are shared by  most great teachers.  Of course any serious teacher can develop these traits.  This is not an exhaustive list of the traits or characteristics of a great teacher, by any means.

1.  Great teachers know their subject(s) and the curriculum very well.  They plan and prepare their lessons thoroughly and set very clear learning goals and objectives for each lesson.

2.  They are highly committed to the education of their students.  Their work ethic is impeccable and they are punctual and regular in terms of their own attendance.

3.  Great teachers demonstrate a genuine love for children and young people.  They still see teaching as a vocation and they provide excellent pastoral care for their charges.  They serve as role models for them and develop productive relationships of trust with them.

4.  Great teachers are patient.  They take the time to understand and remediate students’ learning problems.  They respect their students and they know that students learn by doing.  They engage students and vary their teaching methods according to differing student needs.  They teach critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision making.

5.  They have high expectations for their students.  This belief in the ability of their students motivates the students and pushes them to higher academic and extracurricular performance levels.

6.  Great teachers are calm, firm, fair and consistent in dealing with students.  They maintain discipline and manage their classrooms well.

7.  They have a sense of humour.  Judiciously used humour can defuse boredom and tension in the classroom.  It also helps in dealing with difficult students.  However, they never insult or humiliate any student.

8.  Great teachers seek professional development at every opportunity.  This is how they improve their instructional skills.

9.  They constantly reflect on their own teaching and student learning problems.  They often make pedagogical changes in order to cater to student needs and they give prompt feedback to students.

10.  Great teachers are good communicators.  They build mutually beneficial relationships with students, colleagues and parents.  This tends to enhance student performance.

Great teachers are hard to replace.  They also possess leadership skills and are often engaged in activities in the wider school arena.  Students never forget them or the nuggets of wisdom they pass on.  Many successful adults today say that they owe this success to a great teacher who took a personal interest in them or inspired them, and helped them to achieve their potential.  Great teachers link learning to real life.


8 thoughts on “10 Traits of a Great Teacher

  1. Trevor, you have added a couple of points about great teachers in your closing paragraph which I think should have been included in the list: great teachers take a personal interest in their students; great teachers link learning to real life.
    I would also add that great teachers know, acknowledge and value their students, their interests and their backgrounds. They make connections with students’ lives and link the development of skills to student interests. You have put content as #1 on your list. I would put students #1 on my list and content further down. Content can be gained easily when the need is there and the skills to access it have been developed. What children are interested in is the path to their learning.


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