How to be a good teacher - what makes a good teacher

Who is a good teacher?

What makes a good teacher? When I look back, I find that that there were some teachers who have left an impression that still remain fresh in my memory. We may not even remember the lessons we learnt from them, but there are some things that they said and did that make an impact on us and inspire and impel us to do our best. I believe there are no hard-and-fast set of qualities that will be agreed upon by all, but most of us would agree upon some important qualities that makes a good teacher. I hope to make my list exhaustive and useful while some may remain subjective of course. In some cultures, a teacher is a revered being; the respect that is accorded to a teacher is even higher that what is given to God. In the Indian culture, the guru (or teacher) receives honour right after the parents who gave life, and even the creator God takes His place behind the Guru - The original Sanskrit saying being Matha, Pitha, Guru, Deivam ( Mother, Father, Guru and God)

"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." - William Arthur Ward


How to be a good teacher

In my opinion, a person who inspires and brings out the best in a student is a good teacher. He/she births in students a love for the subject by the way they teach it, the way they encourage the students and reward them for their effort by making an example of it to the class. The words of praise that they use, the actions that highlight the words all make for great inspiration. I remember a teacher who used to read poetry to us as children. Her voice, her expression and her enjoyment of what she read inspired me more than the poetry itself.

A teacher is one who meets the student at his / her point of need. This, I believe, should be the basic and the most important quality of a good teacher. Students are at different levels of learning, even though they may be in the same class. A teacher’s ability to reach out to each individual student at his/her level of understanding and ability to grasp, and being able to also take into consideration the background that he/she comes from is what sets him/her apart.


Qualities of a good teacher

A good teacher identifies budding talent and potential within a student and helps him / her to develop them. Such a teacher does not judge his/her student only on the merits of their academic achievements, but is able to perceptively pick out and nurture talent in areas other than academics.

A teacher who is knowledgeable and is an authority in his / her subject is always respected. Although knowledge is important, it is the ability to get down to the level of the student and help him / her rise up to a higher level of understanding by delivering the knowledge in an appropriate manner that really makes the difference.

It does not make sense to children when they learn something that seems like abstract information, having no connection with reality they live in. A teacher who makes the subject interesting by demonstrating how each concept that is taught is useful and applicable to everyday living, will foster curiosity among students and help them to understand the importance of knowing the concepts well.

A good teacher is one who makes her students think. He / she enables creative thinking and encourages students to explore, discover and find their own answers. He / she also teaches them the value of independence. Teaching students how to teach themselves is the best gift a teacher can give his / her student. A great teacher remains as a facilitator for the students to acquire knowledge and one who silently stands by, encouraging and guiding the students.

Good habits formed early in life help students to become better people. Inculcating discipline and encouraging good habits could become a great boon for students even in their adult lives. A good teacher is one who is interested in the all round development of a student.

The ability to get and retain the attention of his / her students while a lesson is in progress is very important. Employing interactive learning techniques and encouraging active learning skills which involves usage of all senses takes teaching to another level. A good teacher uses every technique and resource that is available to make learning enjoyable, but yet meaningful and effective.

Being open, receptive to new information and willing to learn always is another quality of a good teacher. Every student has something to teach the teacher, and if he/she is open to learning, they would see landmark changes in their quality of teaching.

Being passionate about his/her subject and work makes an ordinary teacher a good teacher. Passion often makes the difference between teaching and equipping people for life. The love for the subject and for her work is infectious, filling the students with similar passion and enthusiasm.

The pursuit of excellence should always drive a good teacher into expecting only the best from her students. Constantly urging them to do better without de-motivating them would be the hallmark of an excellent teacher.

A good teacher is positive and encourages creativity and curiosity among students. No question or no effort is ever belittled or ignored. Curiosity is the mother of learning. Patience to allow curiosity in an organised class room setting encourages active participation in learning.

Having respect for students no matter how small they are and treating them with fairness would be the quality of an ideal teacher. The seeds that you sow in young children will reap rich dividends as the teacher has great influence over her students.

A good teacher leads by example and qualities such as integrity and honesty in her dealings with children and their parents would be a great example for students to follow. Teachers often send wrong messages when they do not stand up for what they believe in and bow down to pressure.

Grading work neither as good nor bad but for what they are worth with specific remarks about what is useful and acceptable and what can be done to improve is a positive encouragement for students to do better. Grades only encourage competition while such comments encourage children to excel

A teacher who would go beyond the call of duty to teach children to perform to their best potential while instilling in them values of good living is not only a good teacher, but a great human being who gives to the world a great generation with an excellent future.

More by this Author


William Gerace profile image

William Gerace 4 years ago from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Sofs this is fabulous. Well written and well said as always. I have to agree with you on all these points. As you may or may not know I worked as a teacher's assistant with the School District of Philadelphia for twenty years. I have seen all styles of teaching. Unfortunately my last year I worked with someone who not only wasn't a mediocre teacher she was borderline inept. At any rate this article is a great resource and inspiration for student teachers. I am voting this up and sharing on Facebook and Twitter. I have some friends in the field and they might be able to use this. Great Hubs Sofs. Thanks again.


savanahl profile image

savanahl 4 years ago

What a major difference it makes in a child's life, to have a great teacher. This is a great guide for any teacher who wants to stand out and make a difference. Thank you for sharing.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 4 years ago from Upstate New York

Excellent article! I also remember some of my teachers with great fondness and affection. It is true that they were more living examples of how to be a good person; the infomation they imparted was secondary.

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summerberrie 4 years ago

Softs, you communicated your keen insights on how to be a good teacher very well. All your points bring the child back to the center. I think all too often the child gets pushed away and lost in the day to day tasks, deadlines and agenda. It is nice to be reminded individual children should be the teacher's focus. Great Hub.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I believe you have covered the main points of being a good teacher. I like your sharing on being a good example and willing to learn from your students. These are really important and make a big difference to the students. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.

freemarketingnow profile image

freemarketingnow 4 years ago from California

How about teaching character? If a teacher does all you say and inspires all this creativity and great learning but doesn't teach character, can't you create an evil genius?

sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

William, that is very gracious of you, I really do not work in the field of education, but have actively worked with my children school, on the committee for education with great educators in the country. It is sometimes sad to see that people opt for the profession of teaching because it pays and not because they love children or are passionate about teaching.. I do really appreciate the share... Thank you and God Bless!

sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Savanahl, thank you for taking the time to read and leave a lovely comment. Have a great day!

sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Paradise, I am glad that you have fond regards for your teachers. I keep in touch with most of my teachers and my children's. The gratitude that fills my heart when I remember some of them is amazing. They have been great mentors who have had a part in shaping my life. Thanks for sharing your views, I appreciate that very much. Have a lovely day!

sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Summerberrie, I am glad you mentioned that, teaching should be child centered not syllabus centered. Thanks for the inspiration and the comment. Have a lovely day!

sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

teaches12345, To me leading by example is more important than imparting of information. It is such teacher who stand out in my memory. I am glad that you as a teacher appreciate that. Have a lovely day!

sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

freemarketingnow, maybe you missed something. I believe you cannot teach character to children, but you could instill good values, discipline, and lead by example as a teacher. I do agree with you that a teacher has a great influence over her students and character formation is an important part of the process of education. I have mentioned these points repeatedly in different ways through the article. Have a great day.

beendesigned profile image

beendesigned 4 years ago

I like the article, but I'd like to add something. It seems that too many new teachers are obsessed with one theory or another, like politicians obsessed with a particular ideology. I think many who believe 'learned' is a positive adjective to preface the word 'teacher' forget the human element. In whatever way you choose to phrase it, teachers have to create relationships between them and their pupils.

I work exclusively with adults. I'd shoot myself rather than teach kids, but admire those who do, or who try.

I went to a particularly bad school, 30-35 years ago. One teacher stood out. He was a disciplinarian of the old school and had more experience than most modern teachers can boast but, fierce as he was, he was always a man first and a teacher second. He took me from bottom to second in my class for maths - a subject I loathed.

Not by bullying, but by choosing to treat me as a person. Not a child. I was 12-14 but he never spoke to me in a condescending manner or made me feel like a little boy. I think he'd cringe at the term 'get down to their level'. Looking back, he spoke to us all in slightly different ways.

Maths may not be a subject where the ability to build a relationship is important. Maybe with some teaching methods it isn't. However, in my opinion, the teacher whose work is ruled by a book, or pet method, is only a shadow of what they should be. Teaching is about people and too many seem to overlook that.


sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Brian, I am so grateful for your comment. You are spot on with your observations. The relationship is what makes a subject likable or not. I write poetry or almost anything today, because of a teacher who encouraged me to write when I was still in middle school. There are flaws in my writing, English being my second language, but the confidence to write came from such a relationship. Thank you for sharing your insightful comment here and I hope every one who read this article reads your comment too. Have a lovely weekend.

always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

Having good teachers is very important in a child's life. I can still remember my English teacher fron the seventh grade, her name was Annie she was strict but a great teacher.Your tips are great..Thank you for sharing..Cheers

sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Ruby, I totally agree with you. A teacher exerts great influence over her students and we remember them even after many years. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Have a lovely day.

Faith 4 years ago

Nice and concrete points. More please

sofs profile image

sofs 4 years ago Author

Faith, Thanks and I hope to do more in this area soon! I appreciate your stopping by. Have a lovely day!

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