6 Qualities of a Great Teacher
A faculty blog by Dr. Mistie Potts
With 23 years of professional experience in education, I’ve encountered hundreds of teachers. Teachers with unique techniques, styles, strengths, and weaknesses. As it is in any other profession — some of my colleagues were better at their job than others. Many hold the naïve assumption that if you have a genuine love for children, then you’ll automatically be a great teacher. But while good intentions are commendable, they alone are not sufficient for excellent teaching.
I’ve come to the conclusion that good teacher qualities are varied, as the role requires a multifaceted approach. However, over 23 years of teaching, I have noticed that many of the teachers I admire most exhibit these six key qualities of a great teacher.
1. Subject Mastery
First and foremost, of all the teacher qualities, exceptional educators must possess a deep understanding of the subject matter they are teaching. Mastery of the content is essential for effectively conveying information and fostering a rich learning environment. By having a firm grasp of the subject, teachers can confidently guide students, answer questions, and address misconceptions that may arise during instruction.
2. Pedagogical Expertise
Equally important is the ability to translate that knowledge into meaningful and engaging lessons. Pedagogical content knowledge is crucial for teachers to design effective instructional strategies that cater to the diverse learning needs of their students. By employing various teaching techniques and adapting their approach as necessary, teachers can ensure that students comprehend and retain the material.
3. Assessment Proficiency
Assessing student progress is also one of the vital qualities of a great teacher. By employing intentional and ongoing assessment methods, teachers can gather data on students’ understanding, skills, and needs. This information enables them to tailor their teaching to individual students and make informed instructional decisions. Acknowledging students’ diverse backgrounds, prior knowledge, and experiences is also essential. Good teachers build upon students’ existing knowledge, connecting new concepts to familiar ones and facilitating meaningful learning experiences.
4. Communication Skills
Beyond these foundational teacher qualities, good educators possess excellent communication skills. They effectively convey information, actively listen to students, and encourage open dialogue within the classroom. By fostering a supportive and inclusive environment, teachers create opportunities for students to share their thoughts, ask questions, and engage in collaborative learning.
Furthermore, good teachers exhibit adaptability and flexibility. They understand that each student is unique, with varying strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. A good teacher adjusts their instructional methods and provides differentiated learning experiences to cater to individual student needs, promoting a positive and inclusive classroom environment.
6. Passion for Students
Lastly, good teachers demonstrate a genuine passion for education and a commitment to their students’ success. They go above and beyond to foster a love of learning, inspire curiosity, and instill confidence in their students. By establishing nurturing relationships with their students, teachers create an atmosphere of trust and support, enabling students to thrive academically and personally.
The qualities that define a good educator extend beyond a mere love for children. Teaching requires a combination of subject mastery, pedagogical expertise, assessment proficiency, adaptability, excellent communication skills, and a genuine passion for education. By embodying these characteristics, teachers can create a transformative and enriching learning experience for their students.
Read stories from the School of Education to learn more about how we cultivate these qualities of a great teacher in our teacher candidates.