What makes a great teacher? At our high school, students are given an opportunity to honor a teacher that has impacted their education/life.  After listening to the speeches year after year, I...

What makes a great teacher?

At our high school, students are given an opportunity to honor a teacher that has impacted their education/life.  After listening to the speeches year after year, I have heard many reasons why a particular teacher has been chosen.  In addition, in the classroom I hear the students talk about the teachers they love, the ones they respect and the ones they wish would have retired last year.

When you think back upon a teacher that has impacted your life, what was it about that teacher that made a difference to you?  What is it that makes a teacher 'great?'

Expert Answers
islandmarsh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After 20 years of teaching, a lot of what I believe about being a good teacher has shifted.  Things that I once believed, I now no longer hang on to.

What I believe is this.  First, you must be willing to share of yourself if you expect students to share with you.  But, as a social studies teacher, expressing my political beliefs are not up for grabs, but playing devil's advocate is.2nd - I truly believe if you don't laugh in every classroom every day - you don't have their attention.   Humor is so essential.  Having said that - once in awhile, talking about issues that are sad enough to make us cry is also a good thing.3rd - fair for one student is not fair for another.  One student may be dealing with being homeless and the next may have just had her cell phone taken for texting.  Life is not fair.  Some students need a free pencil.  Get over it.  Some students are waiting for a vanished parent to call them on their cell phone.  Listen to them.4th - don't debase students in front of their peers.  If they need a good talking to - find another place.5th - make sure you are grading on curriculum and not on bringing a box of tissues for extra credit.6th - admit your mistakes, bow to the students who are smarter than you are, admit if there are subjects you didn't excel in.  But know your subject matter.7th - if you hate your job, quit.  Life is too short.  If you love your job, you'll never work a day in your life.

burbina eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that everyone is going to have a different answer to this question.  The differences will also vary depending on the role of the person answering.  Students are going to have different responses than fellow collegues, and high school teachers are going to be different from elementary teachers.

Personally, I'm a high school teacher.  What I've seen throughout my 8 years of teaching leads me to think that a good teacher is one who is consistent.  One who is consistent with fellow staff, students, parents, etc.  I think this consistency also goes along with how a teacher treats their students; being concerned that all students understand the concepts...not just the football player who might not be able to play, or the kid who's parents are constantly calling or emailing.  I teach English, and I became an English teacher because of the writing aspect of it, so with essays, I like to give students the option of revision to improve their grade.  Not to average out to a better grade...to improve their grade.  I want them to leave my class knowing how to write effectively...not just "passing."

mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You've got to be an expert in your field.  Best Practices says a teacher's knowledge of content is the number one reason for real long-term student success.  It is in college and high school and elementary school alike.

You've go to have a balance of the student-centered and teacher-centered classroom.  Too much of one leads to tyranny or rebellion.

You've got to have a wealth of resources.  Be a table leader for the College Board AP essay graders, member of professional organizations, write or consult or tutor on the side, attend school board meetings.

You've got to have a classroom that is a flurry of activity; it's got to function like the floor of a newspaper office.  Files upon files of sample tests and writing prompts, all for the taking.

Give students the freedom to work together, and pull them together when they need closure. The round-table Socratic seminar workshop is certainly a good teacher's modus operandi.


karensuggs eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I believe this is a very easy answer.

1. A great teacher is a master in their field. You can not teach a topic if you do not know the topic.

2. A great teacher has a talent for taking a complicated concept and breaking it down into small pieces. Then the smaller units are easy to understand. The teacher then puts all of the pieces back together and the learner will experience a broad sensation of understanding that does not require memorization type exercises.

3. A great teacher knows her/his students. The teacher makes direct contact with the students during the course of the lesson, and watches for signs of confusion or boredom...and adjusts their strategies accordingly.

4. A great teacher is organized and highly skilled in time management.

5. A great teacher NEVER stops learning or seeking out formal learning experiences for themselves in order to enrich their own teaching experiences in the classroom.


scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A good teacher must be challenging but also fair and reasonable.  I know so many teachers who simply want to be "hard," and they think that that makes them a great teacher.  But, a hard teacher could simply mean that someone is passionless, does not actually teach (dictates or lectures), or seems to dislike children, teenagers, or whoever his or her students are.

A good teacher has to have a sense of humor.  Even the most challenging teachers I've had have quick wit or a sarcastic personality.

A good teacher has to be willing to admit to mistakes; whether it's writing an ambiguous question, explaining something unclearly, or simply forgetting something.

A good teacher actually enjoys teaching and being with his or her students--this might sound simple, but it is actually becoming rarer for teachers at my school to admit to liking their jobs or students.

sboeman eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Good question, and I'm sure there is no easy answer.  Our school also has opportunities for recognizing influential teachers, whether it's by students or other teachers.  The most common words used when describing these teachers?  Caring, dedicated, passionate, fair, professional-the list could go on, but these seem to be the most common.

I have had many teachers that have shaped not only my future plans, but have also shaped my values, attitudes, and beliefs.  One teacher in particular, a former honors English teacher, went on to be nationally recognized; I, however, did not like him much, but in retrospect, I can still "hear his voice" when I write-he taught his students the benefits of writing, the power of literature, and the importance of an education.  Perhaps, then, another word could be added to my aforementioned list: influential.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I always give this assignment to my seniors at the end of the year...write at least one letter (you can write as many as you want) telling the teacher/coach/faculty member who has gone out of his or her way for you and helped you get to this point in your life that you are grateful.  I give them credit for their letters and then deliver them to the teacher to whom the letter is addressed.  It has become something that the faculty at my school looks forward to each year...several have told me they save them and read them when they have a particularly hard day.

The number one thing that kids write in  their letters is that great teachers give of their time.  Kids feel that these people actually care about them.  It's not just a job...it's a calling for the great ones, and they impact their students in such positive ways.

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Only one person in these comments (post no.6) has identified the correct answer. A great teacher, first and foremost, KNOWS THEIR SUBJECT and can explain it clearly. Of course there is all the touchy-feely stuff, but that is secondary. A GREAT TEACHER KNOWS THEIR SUBJECT. (And if I am honest I have to say that I am regularly shocked by the number of teachers on enotes who confidently spout wildly inaccurate nonsense.)

A teacher is a dispenser of knowledge. First you must aqcuire that knowledge.

  Yes.  I agree.  Knowledge.  Knowledge of subject.  Knowledge of students.  The (good) teacher is a bridge.

lfawley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For me, the number one criteria for a teacher is a desire to teach. As currently the only full time English faculty member at my college (one just made a lateral move to the writing center) I have interviewed many adjuncts and have watched which ones work in the classroom and which ones do not. The ones who do well and who truly have a rapport with their students are the ones who love to teach. As for myself, I can't imagine NOT teaching. It is part of who I am. If you truly have a passion for what you do, it becomes more than a job. You devote the time and energy to it that you need to excel.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My two favorite teachers (one in high school and one in college) were both knowledgeable in their specific subjects, but more importantly, they were extremely personable and willing to allow students to express their opinions and accept diverse views. I considered both of them as my friends as well as my teachers. I have tried to achieve these goals myself as a teacher, and hopefully my former students will have the same fond memories of me as I have of Emma Jo Foster (DeLand High School, Florida) and Professor Ted Hipple (University of Florida and, later, University of Tennessee). 

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The previous posts have all discussed elements that are meaningful.  I would say that flexibility has been the most important aspect in the teachers that have been meaningful.  They were flexible in their approach to content, their ways with students, their demeanor with assignments and taking chances with the work, and they showed that toughness and rigidity are not one in the same.  In my mind, these teachers meant the most to me because they helped instill in me the belief that learning is not solely from one point to another, but the multiplicity of vantage points in between.

copelmat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Good teachers are empathetic toward their students. They may not always do exactly what the students want them to do, but they consider the students' point of view at every turn and act fairly and accordingly.

Good teachers are also knowledgable and passionate about their content. Attitudes are contagious and this is an important element of any classroom.

Finally, good teachers are innovators. They are not afraid to try new methods and are not afraid to fail. When they do, they shrug it off, and try something else.

dano7744 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I vividly remember with fondness great professors I have had in the past. I think one thing that they had in common is that they gave the impression that they truly cared about your success. They were easy to approach, easy to talk to, and were not sitting on some throne of arrogance because they were the "expert". Great teachers show interest, patience, and humility. When I first became a teacher, I tried very hard to emulate those attitudes and behaviors.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To be a good teacher you also have to show students that you are able to be a good learner too. It is important that teachers have the integrity to show that learning is a lifelong process for everyone. I remember being really impressed with a teacher who always had a go at the creative writing task he set us - I have incorporated this into my own teacher.

Having a passion for your subject is also important - enthusiasm is infectious.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many qualities that teachers have that make them good at their jobs. For example they should be good listeners, understanding yet firm and fair, and compassionate among many other things.

One good quality a teacher should have is the love of lifelong learning. A good teacher is always trying to improve themselves and learn more so they can pass that on to their students whether they be in first grade or college.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A great teacher is someone who can inspire/motivate students to want to find out more about whatever subject they are studying. I think of Socrates, who, instead of directly answering students questions, answered with another question to nudge the student to think a little more. A good teacher can spoonfeed information. A great teacher gives the student a spoon and shows him how to feed himself.

engtchr5 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Two simple questions to determine if you are a great and effective teacher:

1. Do you motivate students to desire learning on their own, inside the classroom and out?

2. Do you inspire students to follow their aspirations toward the future?

Those who motivate and inspire are the truest teachers of all. It may sound cliche, but time has proven its validity.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What makes a great teacher is patience, flexibility, passion, energy, attention, impartiality, fairness, assertiveness, self-discipline, and understanding of the changes in society, and in the demographics of their students.

My favorite teacher had all those qualities. And she only happened once in my life. I hope some of my students can see me the way I saw her.

misterb200 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The teachers that have impacted me the most have one thing in common: the ability to listen. Teachers are talkers. We are dispensers of knowledge. But human beings need to be acknowledged and validated to feel and retain self-concept. My best teachers made me feel important and made me feel that what I had to say was important to them and to the class.

booksnmore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think a good teacher is someone who can change lessons/content to meet the immediate needs of students. Sometimes that means throwing out plans halfway through class because the lesson just isn't meeting students' needs. That means the teacher needs to be not only perceptive but also very flexible.

ako6777 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A good teacher is someone who believes in her students and is not there just to collect a paycheck.  A good teacher believes in mastery and continued learning.  A good teacher listens to her students and understands their needs.  This teacher goes above and beyond trying to reach her class.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In order to be a great teacher you have to have both compassion and passion for kids. Students have to know that the teacher cares about and respects them as an individual and not just a student that occupies a desk.

zumba96 | Student

A good teacher is there for their students when they need to be. If a student needs some help, the teacher will not hesitate to take their time off to better the students education. A good teacher must be friendly and supportive to the student because if they bring the student down, the student will not be able to perform at their full potential. 

chrisyhsun | Student

Based on what I have personally experienced and what I have seen from my friends and classmates, I think there are a few different characteristics that can make up a "great" teacher, though not necessarily all of them together

  • Favorite subject - I remember this to be the case with me when I was younger. Since I liked math the best out of the subjects, I would call my math teacher my favorite teacher, even if he or she wasn't particularly spectacular in his/her teaching style or classroom presence. I think students tend to be more engaged to start with in their favorite subjects (or at least the subjects they are strongest in) which may open their eyes more to the positives of the teacher as well.
  • Always there - Some of my peers have a teacher who is their favorite because they feel comfortable just walking into that teacher's classroom during lunch or their off periods and just chatting. The conversation doesn't even have to be about the academic subject. These teachers can be considered great because they can truly connect with the students to the point where students willingly approach them, leading to a mentor-mentee association on top of the teacher-student one.
  • Presented a challenge and helped - Some students find that their favorite teacher taught the subjects with which they had the most difficulty. Oftentimes the student will really dislike the teacher, thinking that the teacher is purposefully against them or making the subject hard. However, if the teacher takes the time and effort to truly help this student succeed, the student will learn that the teacher is indeed a great teacher.
  • Enthusiasm - Student experiences can vary widely depending on the teacher's enthusiasm. Even if a student initially thinks the teacher is "weird" or "lame" for getting so excited about a subject, I think students eventually get "contaminated" with some interest for the subject as well. The teacher leads by example to get excited about the topic and serves as an inspiration for increased curiosity in the area.
atyourservice | Student

I personally think the best teachers are those who engage students. Also teachers who are very thorough while explaining a new subject. I had several teachers who wouldn't take our questions and would confuse us the students even more than we were. I also think teachers who are strict but caring are the best. I like it when teachers set rules and are able to get students to follow it. I had several teachers who were fun but could not get the students to be quiet and most of the time instead of paying attention to what they were teaching they were too busy trying to stop the troublemakers. 

arrellbelle | Student

Personally speaking, I did not like learning history while I was growing up. The teachers taught it in a very monotonous way and it was the same routine throughout of reading the book, taking notes, and discussing them in a group or through powerpoint. However, I was very fortunate enough of being in this program in high school where a teacher was obviously very passionate about American and World History. He taught us about the people, events, and dates, but also told us personal and funny stories that related to that time fragment. He also incorporated many fun, group activities. Although a lot of the students, including myself, were not excelling that well in history, he took the time to make sure that we learn slowly but effectively. A great teacher is the one who cares enough for his/her students to create different ways for a student to learn efficiently.

zumba96 | Student

A great teacher is one who can connect to their kids and help the students learn, without that the student is nothing. Last year I had a great Pre-Calc teacher and he helped us through every problem we had confusion on as well as making sure we understood it before going on to the next chapter. With that I got 100% in most of my tests and completely understood pre-calc, but this year my Calculus teacher did nothing to help the students and us in general and when we had a question, she was no help because she didn't let us ask 'too many' questions when it was the day before the test. It all matters how great the teacher can communicate with the student and how they do it. 

mchandrea | Student

A great teacher is a person who could change lives. I know a number of teachers who are only in their job "because they don't have other options." I admire teachers who teach because they want to, and because it makes them happy. Teachers who are passionate and patient are great teachers. Teachers who understand their students are great teachers. And teachers who use their job for the better of other people are the best teachers.

A great teacher is one that truly cares about their students studies as well as their lives. A teacher once caught me lying when i was a kid and taught me the right path, teachers like those who go a step beyond what they are paid for. 

Wiggin42 | Student

According to me Great Teacher should posses 

knowledge and compassion. 

If the teacher is very brilliant,she/he can't have patience to teach average students.

Very resourceful and creative way to lead a class is very important. 

Being firm and at the same time taking efforts to pay attention to students need are very essential for a teacher.

booklover342 | Student

I think that a great teacher must be able to explain their subject of teaching in many different ways because all students learn differently. They must also be strict, but not to a point where they are yelling at everything. Also, they must express when they feel the class is acting out, not just a sudden burst of angry lecturing or mass punishment. Finally, they must have the ability to listen and learn from their students. They may know how to teach out of the book effectively, but if a student knows another way, they should allow the child to express how they came to the same answer because it may help another student learn.

madmathshoes | Student

As a high school math teacher I believe that communication is quitessential to effectiveness and ultimately how a teacher should be rated. Many educators have volumes of knowledge available but are unable to successfully pass their wealth on to students completely indifferent to education in general. A wise mentor once told me , " They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care" , and that is reflected in how information is conveyed. Respectful communication with flexibility of discourse demonstrates to students that you are as willing to listen as well as speak. The free flow of ideology is vitally important to being " great " .

gitacheerath | Student

A great teacher is a teacher who can bring complex ideas down to the level of the students. A great teacher is proficient in his/her subject area and is able to engage students. This is key! Being a student myself the teachers who are the best are sometimes not the most likable but they are the ones who challenge their class into rising above and beyond the regular student. Additionally the better teachers are able to command a healthy rapport with the class. It is also essential that teachers can explain their subject material. In my school the teachers who are renowned as the best are able to explain in a way that the information stays with the student. In other words they help their students internalize information easily. Overall a good teacher can do all of this yet still learn from their students and grow. The best teachers never stop learning and never stop loving what they teach!

I think you have made a true statement. Any teacher who has a command over her subject matter will never lack respect. A teacher who does not know something should refrain from talking something madeup as students will certainly know and judge you.

Coming from a student great!

kboylan72 | Student

This is a very good question, yet it may often be difficult to answer. A good teacher can vary in many ways...however there are qualities that are very important. The first being patience... A good teacher must have patience with his or her students... no matter what the subject both the students and the teacher may often become frustrated...If the teacher is very patience the students will learn from them, gain patience themselves and succeed. Another quality is subject knowledge... To be a good teacher, one must really have a grasp of the subject being taught. and lastly, love of the profession... One really needs to love what that do into order to be good at it! A teacher loves teaching really stands out!

akg2n | Student

A great teacher is a teacher who can bring complex ideas down to the level of the students. A great teacher is proficient in his/her subject area and is able to engage students. This is key! Being a student myself the teachers who are the best are sometimes not the most likable but they are the ones who challenge their class into rising above and beyond the regular student. Additionally the better teachers are able to command a healthy rapport with the class. It is also essential that teachers can explain their subject material. In my school the teachers who are renowned as the best are able to explain in a way that the information stays with the student. In other words they help their students internalize information easily. Overall a good teacher can do all of this yet still learn from their students and grow. The best teachers never stop learning and never stop loving what they teach!

gitacheerath | Student

A great understanding and empathetic person who applies moderation at all time in class. Creating an environment of respecting each other views and understanding that different views is not wrong or right but different ways of looking at a problem.


passandr | Student

When I was a young teacher I asked this question to a veteran educator considered one of the best in the school.  He responded, "It's simple.  You have to love students and want to listen to them."

jugneeta | Student

Teachers are very important persons of society. Teaching is a passion and an art that few master, and most just consider it a job with a pay cheque. Teachers that touch you , impact your life in ways that determine the very course of your choices and decisions in life.

Such teachers are very evolved human beings, irrespective of the degrees attached to their names. A true teacher, does not just teach, but inspires you to learn. To discover the hidden aptitudes in your makeup and to embark on a journey of exploration and discovery. Rote learning, marks - are  the least criteria in their agenda of priorities. They help you discover the person you are and can be . They educate in a sense that you are ready to face life and its challenges with  tools refined to a finesse, drawn from your own reservoir of strength and resources.

The relationship is supportive, never possessive or claustrophobic. It helps you to grow in a constructive environment , secure in its feeling of warmth, and trust. To experiment and be curious about every thing around you. To ask questions boldly, and the determination to go on till you are completely satisfied. To be very assured of your own powers and capabilities, and never to follow the herd. In other words to trust your instincts and inner voice, the ultimate guide in life.

An excellent teacher, true to the word, grooms you in a loving , encouraging way and then lets you take wings. Th roughly elated  to see you fly.

pruhouser | Student

The one characteristic I feel that makes a teacher great is the same characteristic that makes anyone great:  Passion.  When a teacher is passionate about teaching, they endeavor to implement methods of sharing knowledge that engage all their students.  As I write this, I am recalling a teacher I had in seventh grade.  By today’s standards, I’m sure his process of engaging students would result in more than a few raised eyebrows.  However unorthodox his methods may seem in our contemporary system of education, they worked because they were born of passion.  As his students, we loved and respected him.  We were eager to go to class and eager to learn; his passion was infectious and inspiring.

meganp0504 | Student

I think a good teacher is someone who understands their students and doesnt argue with what the students say.Someone who will be there when they need you the most.Most teachers dont even care about what students think and me well i wont to be a teacher when im older and i would do everything I just said because thats they way i am and i love to help people no matter what it is

caryssaafan | Student

An amazing teacher would be someone that offers good advice and shows openess to the students. Someone they can trust and someone that tries to creat a relationhip with the student

ryzamartinez | Student
- A great teacher detests discrimination in any form or manner. I have seen many teachers in the past who discriminate students based on their ethnicities, their social backgrounds and most especially, their learning capabilities. I have seen how they were mocked not only by students but most especially by teachers, how they were belittled just because most students would be more ‘normal’ and ‘gifted’ than they are. This should not be the case/ - Great teachers give their students a chance to explore ideas and as such, they should not be hindered from asking questions or even challenging a teacher’s viewpoint. I have known some teachers in the past who hated students who keep on inquiring about a certain issue, or concept. As long as the argument does not cross the boundaries between the student and the teacher, my students would always be given room to challenge my ideas because that would also be a learning experience for me. - Learning should be made interactive and engaging, but not to the point that the quality of education is compromised. I believe that fun should be incorporated inside the classroom, but not in a way where only fun is present and learning is given less attention. There should be a balance between engaging activities and the content that should be mastered both by the teacher and the student. :)

it takes some one special to be a really good teacher, but, the first step is:
to be kind and forgiving but hard and Stern(kinda like a rose not to sweet and not to hard)


picturesque | Student

A great teacher is perfect model for his or her students.

laurenhailer | Student

I believe that what makes a 'great' teacher is when you actually leave the question and when you're doing assignments or working in college and you remember certain things they taught so making it easy to apply to your work and helps you.

Also when the teacher helps you only when you actually need it because if it is for something small, like finding the answer, it's not going to help you much since you aren't learning it yourself.

mrsramones | Student

"What makes a great Teacher?" This seems to be a pretty easy question but needs a profound answer. First, I want to define the word "great" as "excellent" which means that to categorize teacher as "great" must be excellent and exceed the expectation of the ordinary notion of teachers' act of teaching alphabets, nouns, and so on. A Teacher must love the kind of job, she or he is doing. She should treat his/her students with outmost caring, respect and must set a good example for them.  Teachers should be intelligent in a way to have the academic training to better equip her/his students on subjects that requires mastery like math, science, and english. Teachers should also think out-of-the-box in executing lessons plans to encourage students to be involve in the learning experience they have in schools.

redscar | Student

The ability to understand what the students can take and teach accordingly.

picturesque | Student

A great teacher

A teacher does not necessarily means a person who takes care of educational needs of his/her students and teaches them but a teacher is a person who takes care of all needs of his/her students.

These needs means he/her must take care of psychological,social,economical problems of their students.

And the best teacher in the world who owns all human possible qualities is Holy Prophet of Islam Hazrat Muhammad SAW.

svetlanastar | Student

My answer is the heart of teaching. You hv to make sure being a teacher is really a calling. For being a teacher is not a simple job -- it deals with people (students, parents, other teachers, and even the environment), also you must have a good moral in your daily for you are the role-model, and it's you who touch your students' futures -- and once you have a heart and a courage to teach, those complexity of a good, great, impact teacher is in you.

magec5 | Student

My best teachers have been the ones who challenged me to think.  They didn't stop there, though.  They then took the time to listen to the answers I came up with for myself.  They pointed me where I could go further and they helped me realize my shortcomings and how to overcome them.  They cared about my journey so far, walked with me awhile, and cheered as I went on while they stayed there teaching the next group of students to come along the path.  That's the kind of teacher I want to be.

marialobo | Student

> someone with a pleasant dispositon and department in personality

>Having a command of the language of instruction and a wide knowledge of the subject to be taught.

> Ability to impart knowledge to students at their lvel.

> Ability to endear oneself to the students in and outside the classroom.

> Lastly, one's ability to command Respect from students and demand it from them.

leaken42 | Student

To be a great teacher you have to trully love what you do. Students are quick to pick up on a teacher who is only there for the paycheck. A teacher who trully loves working with students, laughs and cries with their kids. Is one who is willing to do anything to help their students achieve success. Is parent, friend, teacher, counselor, nurse, and all the other people who may be a part of a kids life.  A great teacher is someone who will be there.

nabila25 | Student

in my beliefs the great teacher must have a good methodology.stylistic ,a good competence

A good teacher should (of course) have an excellent knowledge of his subject. In addition to it, he should be friendly with the students so that whenever they have any problem, they would ask without hesitation. moreover he should consider each and every student as his own and also he should be equal to all. He should be kind enough. He should take great interest in teaching. He should be happy in the student's success and sad at his failure. He should always try to cheer up the students. He should also teach moral values apart from his subject. and many more.........

kblakesley | Student

As a principal, there are several qualities I look for when evaluating a good teacher. As I teacher, I feel I have used the qualities listed within my classroom to teach and help students learn.

A teacher must be confident in their subject area, behavioral management and personal life. Situations arise in the classroom where students will pick up on a teacher's self-doubt and lose confidence in the teacher's abilities.

A teacher must be patient. The patience must be seen in teaching style, listening and communication with their students and fellow teachers.

A good teacher shows true compassion and understanding for a student's every changing emotional state throughout their adolescence. A sixth sense is developed to know when a student is having problems with learning or with personal issues.

Good teachers are able to explain a subject matter or concept in words that the students will understand. Simplification of complicated issues affords a student the opportunity to understand complicated concepts.

Life long learning and a dedication to education is essential in a good teacher. A teacher should be willing to advance their knowledge base through teacher development and in-services. Changing with the times is essential to ensure all students learn what is necessary for them to survive.

A good teacher believes in the vision and mission of the school system. They support administration and administration supports them.

vonn | Student

Qualities of a great teacher:

I. Personal

a. pleasing personal appearance

b. emotional stable

c. sympathetic

d. kind

e. full of patience

f. have integrity and loyal

g. honest and trustworthy

h. exercise fairness

i. sociable and friendly

j. flexible

k. creative

l. resourceful

m. have sense of humor


II. Professional

a. mastery of subject matter

b. skills in using the principles of teaching

c. undestanding and appreciation of the profession

d. plans lessons carefully

e.  willing to take risk

f. provide environment that is conducive to learning

g. use effective modelling behavior

h. passion for teaching

angel-girl | Student

I feel that a good teacher should be mainly caring, responsible and sensitive. In the area of academic, teachers who use powerpoint slides should explain what they are reading and not blabber every single word. In the area of social between teacher and student, teachers should be sensitive towards how their students feel. I have a teacher who is liked by almost everyone in the school. It is because she does not talk in a loud voice when she scolds, but is very calm. In the end, many people listen to her.

So far I have met only a few great teachers, but each one know how to make their lessons interesting, and they also know how to show us students that they love us.

Finally, a great teacher leaves a lasting impact on his/her student.

thanhthao | Student

Characteristics of a good teacher:

1. Knowledgible in the field and other fields

2. Humorous

3. Creative/ Innovative in the way of teaching

4. Flexible in real situation

5. Psychologic


bwylie1 | Student

There are many qualities that make a teacher "outstanding" or "memorable".  These qualities fall into three separate categories:  Knowlege, Skills, and Dispositions.  In my time teaching pre-service teachers, inevitably the students all agree that the category of "dispositions" is the most important and the one that makes teachers stand out.  Obviously, you need knowledge and skills to be an effective teacher.  These two areas though, can be obtained through teacher preparation programs and learning experiences such as volunteering and student teaching.  However, dispositions are what separate the good teachers from the great teachers.  The ability to empathize with your students, understand what motivates each child to strive to excel, a great sense of humor, compassion, etc...these are all dispositions that separate the mediocre from the memorable.  Dispositions are what is gifted to us from birth and makes some of us say "I was BORN to teach.  The most memorable teachers I have ever had were the ones who took a genuine interest in me..who I was, what my motivation was, and my personal goals, and then they lit the fire within my soul that inspired me to strive far past whatever I deemed capable.  That particular quality is neither knowledge nor a skill that can be obtained.  It was the disposition of those teachers that made all the difference for me.

spitxlexx | Student

A great teacher is someone who knows how to balance things. They are the ones who are willing to teach and to be teached. They know how to listen that's why they are, in return, being listened to. They are the ones who left a mark in our lives. We see teachers as great persons on the the things we've learned in and out of their classrooms. Apart from being a teacher, they are also good friends whom we can consult problems to. They help mold our beings and impart us their knowledge. They are the people who gives us inspiration and empowerment.

brokenrose | Student

i agree

momtroll04 | Student

A goo d teacher is not necessarily the smartest teacher -- a good teacher has the biggest heart and is an extremely flexible person. A good teacher must be able to put himself/herself into each student's situation and be able to see from that viewpoint as well as from the front of the room. A good teacher knows what is going on in the classroom at all times, whether it be good or bad.

All of the good teachers that I have either had or worked with have all been blessed with "withitness." They have great intuition and practice more prevention than cure. Good teachers have good relationships with the students, but aren't their "best friends." Good teachers know if a student is having a bad day and gives that student a little leeway. Good teachers prepare their students to be good citizens, good college students, good employees and good parents so that the next generation of students will have a better start.

antiel | Student

I think a good teacher is one who is firm but also knows how to have fun. To gain a students respect, they have to be able to laugh at themselves, and be able to admit if they make a mistake or dont know the answer. A teacher who respects their students and doesnt laugh if they get the wrong answer is one that students will love. Some teachers dont like those students who arent so bright and if they get annoyed after having to help the same student all the time and take it out on the students then they wont be liked even if they are really good teachers.

smartygauri | Student

I think a great teacher would be a teacher who understands her students as friends, corrects them like mother and is as strict as your father(if your Dad is strict)!This combination would make a lovely teacher

gingthe08 | Student

As I am a teacher in a local high school in the field of Special Education, I see many students who enter my room and need some time to "vent".  A teacher needs to be a listener who is willing to take a few minutes to open their ears to a student in need.  Helping them to choose a path that will lead to success for that student. 

Every individual is different and so their needs are met individually. 

What makes a great teacher's day? When a student shares with you one of their accomplishments  and says "Thank you".

profod | Student

I think that a great teacher is one who first recognizes why he or she is teaching.  The reasons for teaching must be few, and specific.  Too many teachers begin with "I wanted to make a difference" or "I remember a teacher who changed my life."  These are not acceptable answers.  A teacher must be willing to accept that there are limitations to what they can do, and that they will only have a positive impact as long as they are passionate about what they are teaching and why they are teaching.
That being said, a great teacher understands that the student must always come first.  A teacher is a servant, one who is prepared and willing to motivate and challenge his or her students, who sees the student as an individual with unique gifts, abilities, struggles, and goals.  A great teacher builds a student-centered classroom.  I think we can all remember why we liked our favorite teachers so much, and the reason usuall has to do with the fact that that teacher treated us like a human being and responded to us as an individual.
A great teacher is always prepared, one who seeks excellence in his or her own pursuit of being a teacher.  The more I have been willing to learn, to make mistakes along the way, to admit when I don't know, the more my students have been willing to learn from me and to learn with me.  I think that is key.  Learning is a journey, and one that should be taken together.

alleycat97 | Student

A good teacher is someone who recognize has authority, but can still be your friend. You are able to talk to them about anything.

They notice your struggles and help you plow through school, help you face the challenges ahead. they prepare you for your future, sometimes teach life lessons or just set a good example.

these are just some parts of a good teacher.

pamla | Student

What makes a great teacher? I believe that the single most important thing that makes a great teacher is to be someone who loves to learn and loves to impart that love of learning to others.  As teachers, we can not teach single thing to a child in the time we have with them; there will never be enough time.  If we can share with them a love and excitement for learning, if we can impart that to them, it will start a chain reaction in their lives to become lifelong learners.

We also need to give them the tools to become lifelong learners, including good reading and comprehension skills, good math skills, good communication skills, and good research skills, as well as to encourage the creativity that is in all of us, in one way or another.  Give them that thirst and hunger to do more, to go further, and you will give each child the gift of becoming a lifelong learner, and that, I believe, makes for a great teacher.

lbridgewater | Student

i agree with angelacox , a teacher must first get to know their student inorder to gain their trust. Math was not my favorite subject , what made it worst was that my maths teacher did not help. She would show one example and move on even if the students grades drop she moved on to a different lesson. My grades were terrible until i moved to another class. My Second maths teacher made it her duty that everyone one in her class passed with good grades, if one student was not making good grades she would call you up after class sit and show you were your grades have dropped and where you need improvements. At every class she would say if their is something your not sure about let her know even if your the only one who doesnt understand. To be a grest teacher you must have the drive and passion to teach. Your have to love what you do. Inorder to get respect you must first give respect , she respected every one of us and helped everyone . If their was a topic that i didnt understand or anyone else she helped us at our own pace never rushing us or judging us.

angelacox | Student

First and foremost, a great teacher is one who understands that a student cannot reach their full potential until they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you genuinely care about them - regardless of their academic potential. Developing this type of trust may take half the year with some students. However, it is well worth the wait. Once students know you genuinely care about them, they will jump through hoops to please you. The test scores will reveal this!

A great teacher spends time getting to know students, planning lessons that are engaging to students, and using humor and "over the top" techniques to enhance student learning. A great teacher is always looking for better ways to reach the lowest performing students, more enrichment for the advanced students, and "just the right fit" for the average student. It is evident that a great teacher loves what they are teaching!

Above all else, a great teacher shows respect to everyone in the building at all times and models the character they wish to see in all of their students. A great teacher is fair in all of their dealings with students and NEVER makes a student feel inferior in any way. A great teacher will also go the extra mile for any struggling student. The teacher believes in the students they teach and their abilities. A great teacher believes in those students that others have given up on!

mpettie | Student

A good teacher cares and believes in their students.  Belief and encouragement will move a child from one level to the next.  Also a good teacher will be fair in the treatment of all students.   I've noticed that when you show you care a student will move mountains in order to impress you by taking responsibility for their own learning.  Here's the cycle:  Teacher shows love and compassion---Student believes ----Student learns.

jayanthy | Student

I often ask my students to write about the best teacher in their life and most of them write about the person who i s passionate not only to her subject but also is a real human being and very humane in her approach to her saubject and students.They say she need not be an information centre but a compassionate person who understands them and is ready to accept her mistake and forgive their lapses, very fair, just, commanding and at the same time demanding and understanding. Not too rigid, not too peesimistic, not too harsh in her treatment of them.Able to laugh with them and is able to accept themfor what they are and not what she wants them to be.

brownbutterfly | Student

Leo R. Sandy, a professor at Plymouth State University, wrote an article called "The Effective Teacher," which has become quite popular in some Master's in Education programs.  (http://oz.plymouth.edu/~lsandy/effective.html)

He gives a plethora of descriptions on what makes an effective teacher.  However, the one that is most salient, and one with which I totally agree, is:  ". . . that she [he] be a learner. Paulo Freire refers to this role as 'teacher-student' because the teacher presents the material to the students for their consideration, and reconsiders her earlier considerations as the students express their own.  The effective teacher, then, is one who extends a cordial invitation to her 'student-teachers' to enter into a dialogic relationship with her and the subject matter."

My own idea of what makes a great teacher would be his/her ability to always make the student's learning number one priority inside the classroom.  If it means researching how the teenage brain functions best or finding different ways to adapt his/her lessons to accomodate the different learning styles and modalities of students, and creating a safe and enticing learning environment for the students, an effective teacher would do it.For me, one thank you note or hug from a student at the end of the year makes all the trials and tribulations from the whole year disappear. 

anniebt | Student
What makes a great teacher?

At our high school, (summa) students are given an opportunity to honor a teacher that has impacted their education/life.  After listening to the speeches year after year, I have heard many reasons why a particular teacher has been chosen.  In addition, in the classroom I hear the students talk about the teachers they love, the ones they respect and the ones they wish would have retired last year.

When you think back upon a teahcer that has impacted your life, what was it about that teacher that made a difference to you?  What is it that make a teacher 'great'?

A great teacher is a teacher that is there for all students. She makes sure she understands their needs and concerns. She teaches each students as if they are an individual. A great teacher sees the whole child and tries to fit that child's interest into their education. A great teacher listens to her students and also makes learning fun.

I had a 5th grade teacher who made learning fun through songs and rhymes. Although I thought they were silly at the time.I still remember them to this day. She is the one who inspired me to become a teacher.

renee2181 | Student

I agree that an effective teacher must be fair and compassionate.  He or she must be able to identify a student's needs, both intellectual and emotional.  An effective teacher does not treat every child the same; rather that teacher sees each student as an individual with unique educational needs.  I think that if teachers had enough time, they should develop an IEP for every student, but that, unfortunately, will never happen.  

astjohn38 | Student

I feel there is quite a few good teachers out there.  And they all have some good traits that make them a teacher.  A good teacher that stands out from the rest is one that enjoys there job and is there for the students.  A teacher that cares about all students and does not have favors.  A teacher that makes sure all the students are learning at there abilities.  A teacher that acknowledges a student in the morning and before they leave for the day.  A teacher that takes the time to have a chat with a student when they are upset or need some help.  A good teacher is all the above and more.  A good teacher is in that profession for a reason.

lakshmiprasad | Student

Teaching is not a science. It is an art. Do whatever and be whoever, make the students learn what you want them to learn with  much clarity and with as much ease as possible. Do it with compassion and love to such an extent that your happiness stems from the progress of your students in understanding the subject, yo teach. Then you are a good teacher and a great teacher.

lilyossgod | Student

i think a god teacher is someone who can control a classroom of kids. i think a good teache is someone who can inspire studens to learn

ricrobrod | Student
What makes a great teacher?

At our high school, (summa) students are given an opportunity to honor a teacher that has impacted their education/life.  After listening to the speeches year after year, I have heard many reasons why a particular teacher has been chosen.  In addition, in the classroom I hear the students talk about the teachers they love, the ones they respect and the ones they wish would have retired last year.

When you think back upon a teahcer that has impacted your life, what was it about that teacher that made a difference to you?  What is it that make a teacher 'great'?

The teacher that most impacted my life was my high school English teacher. She not only cared about my education but she truly cared about me. I grew up with an alcoholic father and sometimes our nights were very long at our house. She always knew when I had a rough night and would let me tell her about it. She often had words of encouragement and would make me feel so much better.  As a senior in high school she even let me live with her when my parents moved overseas to take an oilfield job. This allowed me to graduate with my class. She treated me like her own with rules and curfews.  What makes a teacher great is their ability to see past the books and assignments and help the whole child to feel good about themself and to be successful in life.

lori68 | Student

In my opinion, the quality that makes a teacher great is that he or she likes his or her students. While some have responded that mastery of subject matter is important, I don’t feel that it is the most important quality. If a person does not like his or her students that person should not be teaching. I know that may sound obvious, but I have seen too many teachers who have lost their affinity for students somewhere along the way. Children can sense whether or not their teachers like them, and that is what can encourage them to work to their full potentials or it can discourage them from ever even trying.

jcarhart1 | Student

Dr. Harr was effective at this as well. If he did not have an answer to a difficult question, he would become excited and say “Awesome question! I have absolutely no idea! (and laugh)” He would then ask us for input. After noting our thoughts, he would go home and research the question. At our next class, he returned with a thorough explanation after having researched the query on his own time.


jcarhart1 | Student

On a personal note, I would like to add that I believe that it is very important to acknowledge to the student when the subject matter is unfamiliar. I do not mind admitting that I do not have all the answers. I believe that this is an additional quality of a good instructor. Thus, if I cannot answer a student’s question, I feel that it is important to disclose this and explain to the student that I will have to research the question before attempting an answer. Empathically speaking, I would not want someone teaching me who is not entirely comfortable with the subject matter. Therefore, humility is another key trait for instructors to foster when approaching students in the classroom.


jcarhart1 | Student

Given that students have divergent learning styles, Dr. Harr tried to approach each problem from multiple angles if he found that we were experiencing difficulty assimilating the concepts covered in the classroom. He believed that “hitting the reset button” was an important strategy when working with complex mathematical concepts. Doing so would often prevent frustration from creeping in and clouding cognitive processes. By approaching problems from multiple angles, Dr. Harr provided each student the opportunity to incorporate the appropriate pathway he or she deemed fit toward problem resolution.


jcarhart1 | Student

Together, these qualities (i.e., attributes) would allow him to be sensitive to students’ presence, needs, statements, and individual learning style. In addition, he was also flexible and adaptable to the individual needs of each student.

Once in class, Dr. Harr would ground each discussion in a standardized approach to problem solving. As standardized approaches go, our class found comfort in sequential processes that would allow us to return to familiar steps in a difficult problem and revisit the more confounding portions anew. Hence, Dr. Harr’s predilection for organization was an effective disposition that he covertly fostered within the classroom. Soon, this organizational approach to statistics found its way into each of our own problem solving repertoires.

jcarhart1 | Student

While pondering this question, I am reminded of an undergraduate statistics instructor I once had. Please allow me to introduce him to you. His name was Dr. Harr and he would approach each class with a positive attitude. His positive attitude would often help motivate the class to learn the concepts covered during the course of the classroom session. He would also try to inspire confidence in each of his students, as this would assist each of us in persevering through the more abstract subject matter.



thumbelina | Student

I think a great teacher is one who knows her subject well. She's honest enough to admit a mistake, even in the face of ridicule; after all she's only human and not a demi-god.

One great quality that I admire in a teacher is complete lack of prejudice; one who has no favourites, is fair and just. Added to this is her compassion for the under dog, one who is held in contempt. In my years of teaching, one thing that I have vehemently opposed is condescencion in the name of class, creed or religion.

Above all one significant quality of a teacher is her ability to discern the slow learner from the fast, because no two children have the same learning graph.

carrie-crawford | Student


I think that a good teacher is someone who first knows the material that they are teaching and can relay the information in a variety of different ways. A good teacher is someone who can relate to the students and is assessable to them. A teacher is not only a teacher, but a counselor, parent and sometimes a friend. It's a crazy job!!!

teeya1777 | Student

teach to learn

learn to teach.

bobkrask | Student

A great teacher must first gain a thorough understanding of the curriculum that they will deliver.  If you plan to teach a course on Hemingway, for example, then you need to read Hemingway's primary works (novels, short stories, essays) and become familiar with some of the relevant criticism that has been forwarded on those works.

However, a thorough library or personal knowledge alone will not make you a great teacher unless you can both communicate that knowledge successfully and get your students to want to learn not only some of that knowledge, but to develop such knowledge on their own.

While distinct approaches to different disciplines have unique advantages, literature lends itself to discussion-based teaching exceptionally well.

Listen to your students.  Ask questions about the material that don't have easy answers and then listen as students collaboratively work through answers to those questions.  Try to foster an environment in which each student doesn't just have to speak, but actively wants to speak.  As you respond to student comments, reinforce positive insights, fill in gaps, and ask new questions that allow you to cover the relative and important points concerning the material.  As your students become increasingly invested in teaching themselves (reading the material and developing accurate insights), they will also become increasingly interested in the material and their own progress as students.

angiewill | Student

A good teacher is one who has great knowledge of the subject he/she teaches.  A GREAT teacher is one that can deliver that knowledge to each and every child in the classroom.  This means that he/she must be able to be flexible and through assessment make decisions to reteach in a different method and reach the children on many different levels.  He/she must always remember that not all children learn the same way, it is our job to teach to EVERY childs learning stye.  The cold hard truth is that if you fail one child, you fail them all and flat out aren't doing your job.

imsocool123 | Student

My favourite teacher, an Grade 10 English teacher I had, was great because she was so personable. She made learning fun but also effective. She dedicated an equal amount of time to each one of her students and was always there if you needed help in English, writing an essay, grammar, or personal life situations. She influenced me to be a better person and made learning Shakespeare not too bad, along with other classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird. On top of that, she also has the dedication to remember each and every student's ISU topic and offer personal advice on the best way to move forward in life. She is the best teacher I've ever had!

culbja01 | Student

A great teacher is someone who can inspire/motivate students to want to find out more about whatever subject they are studying. I think of Socrates, who, instead of directly answering students questions, answered with another question to nudge the student to think a little more. A good teacher can spoonfeed information. A great teacher gives the student a spoon and shows him how to feed himself.

sreejaa | Student

Teaching is one of the most complicated jobs today. It demands broad knowledge of subject matter, curriculum and standards; enthusiasm, a caring attitude and a love of learning; knowledge of discipline and classroom management techniques; and a desire to make a difference in the lives of young people. With all these qualities required, it's no wonder that it's hard to find great teachers.

gannee9 | Student

a great teacher is that he who or she needs to teach have first of all ability to learn something new from their students.then only he will be a great teacher.in other sense if a teacher doesn't know his subject and dont have any ability to learn everytime a new things in life in education facility then how he will be able to teach his students.


ssdude2004 | Student

A great teacher is one who doesn't just teach from the book.  They find new and different ways to to make the information exciting and fun to learn.  The education system in America is seriously flawed in ways that make getting a degree insanely boring.  College is supposed to be about teaching you skills that will prepare you for a job that corresponds to your degree.  However an American degree includes useless classes that have nothing to do with a certain major.  Math majors taking history classes.  English majors taking math courses.  This is not what a degree is supposed to be about.  It is because students are forced to take these classes that so many of them have trouble in college.  It is up to the teacher to realize that a lot of the students in their classes simply do not care about the material presented in the class.  Because of this the teachers need to find more exciting ways to present the information to their classes.  We have all had professors that simply read straight off of a power point and expect their students to learn something from that.  This is not the way that a class should be taught.

Teachers also need to understand that classes, especially core requirement classes, don't need to be insanely difficult.  Why are so many math teachers not allowing their students to use calculators on tests?  In the real world you will always have a calculator available to use if you need one.

tonyparker1 | Student

West Point cadets memorize Gen. John Schofield's Order of Discipline, which, if applied to students rather than soldiers, demonstrates great educators’ principles:

Discipline which makes soldiers reliable is not gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. It is possible to impart instruction and to give commands in such manner and such a tone of voice to inspire in the soldier no feeling but an intense desire to obey, while the opposite manner and tone of voice cannot fail to excite strong resentment and a desire to disobey. The one mode or the other of dealing with subordinates springs from a corresponding spirit in the breast of the commander.

He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them regard for himself, while he who feels, and hence manifests, disrespect toward others cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself.

Schofield reinforced Anselm’s centuries-old discovery when consulted by a British headmaster who complained his students grew up “Dull and brutish.” Anselm noted incorrigible students worsened at harsh punishment. "Do you never stop beating the lads?” he asked. “Suppose you nurtured young trees in your garden thus, allowing no freedom? You couldn’t sell lumber such restrained & crooked trees produced. Students see no love or kindness in your dealings, and no motive but envy, coercion and hatred”

Anselm and Schofield argued that good teachers inspire greatness through love rather than fear.

gannee9 | Student

The most important factor which is essential is to understand the students' psychology and mentality. That teacher who can understand his students can easily make him connected with them. This connection is very important. Then, students get involved in the class.

Another quality which a teacher needs is being able to teach well. Many teachers are there who are extremely knowledgeble but fail to convey their knowledge to the students. This make them quite unpopular.

And, lastly, a good teacher must have good control over his temper, and should try to keep patience even in an awkward situation. He has to be student-friendly, since nowadays, teachers are expected to act more like friends, not like controllers.

well whatever u written in ur post i totally agree that but in my opinion the main things to be a perfect teacher is that one should the ability to learn something new frm there students always.

then only he able to became a good teacher as now he had the ability of both to teach and to learn also.which is a plus point of the teacher.

nusratfarah | Student

The most important factor which is essential is to understand the students' psychology and mentality. That teacher who can understand his students can easily make him connected with them. This connection is very important. Then, students get involved in the class.

Another quality which a teacher needs is being able to teach well. Many teachers are there who are extremely knowledgeble but fail to convey their knowledge to the students. This make them quite unpopular.

And, lastly, a good teacher must have good control over his temper, and should try to keep patience even in an awkward situation. He has to be student-friendly, since nowadays, teachers are expected to act more like friends, not like controllers.