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A good teacher: seven qualities

Updated on September 2, 2013

updated Sept 2013

Qualities of a good Teacher

For those fortunate enough to have attended a Teacher Training programme, some of what is said here was covered in the curriculum. I hope that some of the Seven Tips stated here will rekindle interest in self improvement so that one becomes the best teacher possible. Many people who did not intend to be in a teaching career are finding themselves in charge of students because they have mustered skills that are in demand. I hope that they too will find something to implement rather urgently from this post.

I was a teacher in a tertiary institution for eight years. During that period I came across all the ‘student types’ you can imagine. Since the teacher population did not change as fast as the Student population, I cannot claim to have met that many ‘Teacher types.’ However, some of them had teaching methods that I liked while others had methods I found wanting. From that experience, I gained a lot about the qualities of a good teacher and I hope that I made use of the knowledge for the benefit of my students. Below are seven of the qualities I found to be the most important.

1. A good teacher prepares Work Plans at the beginning of the term or semester

This is a tedious task and a special form should be acquired. If your school does not supply you with a form, you can draw your own columns and rows to cover all the weeks in the term. You have to sit with the syllabus for the term or semester and plan what you want to cover in the period. This is what you distribute in the weeks. The form should have a column for stating the objectives and another column for ‘the expected outcome.’ Experienced teachers usually cover the same material year in and year out so it is not a big deal putting it in writing. It is advisable to break the monotony of routine by varying this year’s work plans a little from last year’s. In any case, one is supposed to continue evaluating their methods, so some improvements should always be an objective when writing work plans. A new teacher should look for an experienced teacher as a mentor. With a detailed work plan, you will never appear in a class on a Monday morning unsure of what to teach.

2. A good teacher prepares Lesson Plans for each month (week, or day)

A lesson plan depends on the Work plan to account for the hours that the teacher wants to spend in class. There are special forms for this purpose, but again you can always make your own. Every class that you attend should have a lesson plan that also lists the materials that will be required. These may be books, maps, plain paper, markers, etc. Leave nothing to chance in a lesson plan.

For example, in a one hour ‘Business studies’ class, the plans might be as follows:

· Greetings and general preparations - First 5 minutes

· Introduction to the subject – 5 minutes

· Introduction to the topic – 5 minutes

· Two examples of the topic - 10 minutes

· Lecture/Notes on the subject – 20 minutes

· Discussion, Questions and answers – 15 minutes

This is an arbitrary example but generally, you should account for the 60 minutes allocated for that class. When the bell rings, you will find your effort worth the trouble.

Teachers who go to class without lessons plans fumble through the lesson and sometimes cover all the material in half the time. They are then left to rumble on and on, and the bell seems too long in coming.

3. A good teacher arrives on time

A good teacher arrives at least half an hour before the class is due. You will be able to retrieve your lesson plans and gather all the material required without going into a panic. You do not want rush to class and then have to send a student to get an important book from the staff room or library. Arriving early and sticking to your lesson plans will help to reduce interruptions to your class to a minimum.

4. A good teacher has a sense of humour

Some teachers are so humourless that some students start to doze in class soon after the lesson starts. In one case, the students called a certain teacher ‘piriton’ – the antihistamine that causes drowsiness. If you do not give funny examples in your class and vary the tone of your voice so that it is not a monotone, your classes will be dreaded. Students look forward to a class which is managed by a teacher who is serious but has a sense of humour.

5. A good teacher understands the individual limitations of the students

Some students are good listeners, others are good note takers, while yet others finish their assignments on time. You will be lucky to have all your students falling in those categories. While you must be firm with all your students so that you are not seen to favour some, you must give consideration to the following types: the slow learner; the shortsighted; the sickly; the introvert etc.

Allow any of the above categories to see you individually for further explanation. Always state that you are willing to explain to anyone one who did not understand the first time. The shy ones will have the confidence to see you with their problems.

6. A good teacher works as a team player with fellow teachers

A teacher does not work in isolation. For this reason, schools tend to have a Staff Room where teachers can meet between lessons and bond. Some schools actually send their teachers on bonding outings. In spite of these efforts, some introverted teachers may still remain in a shell, which is not a good thing. Team players listen to each other’s problems and rally behind each other when they are face difficulties from any quarter.

A teacher who is not a team player may be overwhelmed by any of the following situations:

· Excessive marking of papers and projects – others may remain aloof and fail to help an overburdened teacher.

· Students may be unruly, or even bully such a teacher. A team player can always seek the help another assertive teacher to come to the rescue.

· Parents of some ‘tin god’ students may victimise such a teacher through siding with their over-privileged children. A team spirit will ensure that such parents vent their emotions on the whole school and an individual teacher.

I could go on and on. The advantages of being a team player are numerous.

7. Finally a good teacher must assess the effectiveness of his or her teaching. Though this will be visible in the final examinations that the students will take, it may be too late to take corrective measures. Corrective measures to ensure that objectives of the programme are met are best made in the course of the term or semester.

In conclusion, it takes more to be a teacher than just being an expert in your area of specialisation.


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  • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

    Emmanuel Kariuki 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

    Paul Kuehn, may be you could write on the qualities of a good student since you are still very active in the class rooms. Thanks for the vote and sharing.

  • Paul Kuehn profile image

    Paul Richard Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand


    As a fellow teacher I agree with your seven points. I have used them all; however, as a teacher who is moving from one classroom to another on a big campus with sometimes no breaks between class, it is hard to always be on time or early to class. If possible, I try very hard to be early to class so that I can write at least the objectives of the day and homework on the board. Yes, schemes of work for the whole semester and daily lesson plans are necessary to be a good teacher. Voted up as useful and I am sharing with my followers.

  • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

    Emmanuel Kariuki 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

    StephanieBCrosby, I will update soon. Some really qualified teachers do walk into a classroom totally unprepared so I hope this hub sets someone on the right path again, and for the untrained... gives them a foundation at the very least.

    Thanks hectordang, I will visit the site soon.

  • hectordang profile image

    hectordang 5 years ago from New York

    You can also visit my friends' website if you want some FREE resources on how to be a better teacher. It's a

  • StephanieBCrosby profile image

    Stephanie Bradberry 5 years ago from New Jersey

    Even though some of these traits are covered in teaching preparation programs, it is still good to be reminded of them frequently as educators. Many teachers and supervisors can lose their path and passion when they do not remain rooted in what teaching is all about, helping students. So I hope you continue to share traits.