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A Good Teacher: Seven Qualities

Updated on August 1, 2019

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. I did not attend a Teacher Training institution and had to learn the ropes on the go. 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 humorless 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 humor.

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 favor 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 victimize 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 program are met are best made in the course of the term or semester.


It takes more to be a teacher than just being an expert in your area of specialization. Always strive to be a better teacher. Sometimes doing small things that are outside this list can take you a notch higher. Like always showing empathy with your students and fellow teachers; being a good listener and always updating your notes.

What Makes a Great Teacher?

What Makes Great Teachers?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Emmanuel Kariuki


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