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Qualities of Great Teachers

Here’s an ever-growing list of the qualities of great teachers collected from students, teachers, and researchers in education. The qualities have been organized into categories, but some fall into more than one category. Identify the qualities that you valued as a student, those that you think you’re already doing well, and those you’d like to take on as teaching goals. Choose one per week or one per class to focus on. Talk with your colleagues about their approaches to get ideas.

Teacher & Students’ Emotion, Motivation, & Behavior Teacher & Student Interaction

Enjoy their subject.

Enjoy their students.

Take risks and "push the envelope."

Are lively and inspiring.

Working to keep themselves and their students from becoming complacent.

Foster self-motivation in their students.

Don’t give up on their students.

Encourage each of their students to  believe in themselves.

Are impartial.

Value their students’ diverse cultures, 
talents, and ways of learning. 

Are approachable. 

Are aware of nonverbal dynamics. 

Learn from their students and tell them so. Encourage cooperation among students.

Are empathetic.

Organization & Planning Presentation

Are organized.

Keep good records.  

Plan carefully.  

Start and end the class on time. 

Have their materials in order.  

Share the plan for the day in a handout/pdf or on the board.

Incorporate visuals, movement, sound, experiences, anecdotes to make the lesson interesting.

Listen well.

Encourage active learning by getting students to talk, write, move, and create.

Know their subject thoroughtly, yet present it succinctly.

Set a good pace and vary the pace.

Speak naturally, clearly, and loud enough but not too loud.

Have a sense of humor/fun, but know how to keep order.


References:

McKeachie, Wilbert and Svinicki, Marilla. McKeachie’s Teaching Tips. 12th Ed., Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006.

Gross Davis, Barbara. Tools for Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey Bass Publishers. 1993.