What makes a great teacher- 13 traits of a top educator

What makes a great teacher- 13 traits of a top educator

There are so many challenging jobs out there, but if we were to make a list, I’m sure the job of a teacher would be somewhere close to the top. Think about it. Teachers have a huge responsibility. They mold and shape the minds of tomorrow.

They inspire, help and steer in the right direction. Sometimes they overcome huge opposition from children, parents and the system and they still do their job with passion and dedication. Without devoted educators, the world would be a completely different place.

In this article, I will list the key traits that a great teacher has. It is also a way of showing how amazing these people are and I hope that after reading this, you will appreciate your child’s teacher even more or take the time to contact one of the teachers that had an impact on you.

  1. A Good Communicator

Teachers talk…a lot. Part of their job is to explain things to students in a way that makes sense. In order to do that, teachers need superior communicating skills, both verbal and nonverbal are equally as important. They are often prepared to explain the same thing in 2 or 3 different ways until every student in the class has understood.

They will choose their words carefully, according to the kids’ level, they will use gestures to convey the message clearly, a controlled tone of voice is also very important and even their facial expressions have a big role.

Being a good communicator is one of the most important skills nowadays not only for a great teacher but in many professions. The good news is that there are many courses out there that will help you become a better communicator.


     2. A great Listener

A Greek philosopher called Epictetus once said that “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” This is also true about teachers.

For effective communication to happen, educators need to actively listen to what students have to say. As most teachers will tell you, children don’t always make sense. So, a great listening skill along with patience will help a teacher decipher the meaning behind the student’s words.

  1. A lot of Empathy

This is an important trait in general for people. But as a teacher, I believe that having empathy is crucial. Often, adults forget that children also face challenges and feel misunderstood.

An empathic teacher will manage to get close to his/her students, will understand their needs better and will treat each student as an individual. When children feel close to their teacher the learning process is easier and much more effective.

  1. Warm and Approachable

Children need to feel that they can always approach their teacher no matter what. It is so important to know that your teacher will dedicate some of his/her time to talk to you.

In general, students have many questions and I remember from my childhood that there were certain teachers to whom I had no problem asking for clarification and teachers who weren’t necessarily strict but had a certain coldness about them which made me not want to interact with them more than I needed.

So, a great teacher needs to have a very open attitude towards their pupils which will have a positive impact not only on their academics but also on them as individuals.

  1. Passion and knowledge about the taught subject

Both passion and knowledge on the subject that they are teaching is important. When they teach, educators impart their knowledge on the matter to their students. It is necessary that the information is correct and up to date.

Not to mention that curious students will ask questions that perhaps are not in the session’s lesson plan. So, teachers need to know their subject inside out. When they also add passion to the knowledge, the effect is magical.

Passion is contagious so students will learn easier from a teacher who loves what he/she is doing. In addition, such a teacher will always find fun and memorable ways to tackle a topic, he/she will always have amusing stories to introduce the day’s lesson and vivid examples to share.

  1. A Complete Entertainer

Have you ever attended the lesson of a kindergarten teacher? They are amazing. They sing and dance with the kids, they organize puppet shows and plays, they read stories with such skill that it seems like the characters pop out of the book and parade in front of many curious little eyes.

They draw and paint the most wonderful and full of colour pictures with the help of their students. They can transform into clowns and are not afraid to do so for the amusement and laughter of the little ones.

  1. A Good Organizer

Teachers have so much on their plate that without a good organization skill they would simply collapse under the weight of all the things that need to get done. Teachers need to plan and organize their lesson plans carefully and make sure that they have all the materials that they need during the lesson.

They need to strictly organize their time in order to be able to squeeze in all the activities that need to be done: meetings with the parents, meetings with their fellow teachers, professional development conferences and workshops, reading countless books and papers in order to keep their teaching up to date, constantly searching for new and fun ideas to keep the students engaged, grading mountains of essays or tests and so much more.

And let’s not forget that teachers also have something called a life and a family of their own. So being good organizers with their time and activities is very important.

  1. Good at Class Management

One of the aspects that most new teachers fear is class management. “How am I going to be able to make the students listen to me?” “How will I deal with disruptive behaviour?” “How do I get back the class’ attention after a brief distraction?”

 Indeed, this is probably not the easiest part of being a teacher but the good news is that it is a learnable skill. There are so many resources, articles, books, courses, not to mention the experience of older educators that will help a beginner teacher to learn how to deal with class management.

It is an essential skill because learning cannot take place in a chaotic environment. But class management is not only about controlling their students. It’s also about how they make use of the space in the classroom, how they arrange their materials, how they seat the students and so on.

  1. Highly Creative and Adaptable

Anything can happen in a classroom. Even though teachers have each minute of the lesson prepared and organized, the unexpected can still happen. For example, the lesson plan contains some activities that involve technology. But suddenly the electricity dies or technology fails. The teacher suddenly needs to replace those activities with others that will have the same aim.

Or he/she discovers at the beginning of the class that the students haven’t understood something from the previous lesson. The teacher needs to change the lesson plan on the spot in order to accommodate some consolidation activities.

Teachers need to be highly creative in almost everything that they do. From the lesson plans and materials to the intros they come up with for introducing different topics. Everything needs to be fun and imaginative in order to keep the students engaged.

  1. Ability to build trust, respect and confidence with the students

The moment a teacher creates a safe environment for the students, they will flourish. When I say safe, I mean a classroom where the children have the confidence to express themselves or ask as many questions as they feel the need to.

When the relationship between the teacher and the student is based on trust and mutual respect that’s when true learning takes place. A teacher capable of having such a connection with his/her students is the type of teacher that most likely will positively impact their lives.

  1. Ability to build good relationships with fellow teachers

Being a teacher is a tough job so a good support system is needed. And who could understand the struggles of a teacher better than another teacher? Having a teacher group with whom you can exchange ideas, observe their lessons, discuss challenging situations or simply go out for a drink and blow off some steam is very important both professionally and personally.

  1. Set high expectations for their students

Great teachers expect all students to perform well in their classroom. They set clear goals for them that the students, under the educator’s guidance, will achieve.

However, these goals need to be realistic for each individual child’s skill otherwise a feeling of frustration will appear. A great teacher will not give up on underachievers and will strive to take those students to where they need to be.

13. A Desire to Grow Professionally

CPD (Continuing Professional Development) is an important part of every teacher’s life. Just like doctors, for example, educators need to be up to date with the latest teaching methods, activity ideas or materials. Thus, teachers invest a lot of time attending conferences, workshops, webinars, and courses. Thanks to the internet CPD has become a lot easier. Educators can fine tune their teaching methods with many online courses. There are a lot of free courses out there that are truly informative and helpful. I like to constantly keep an eye on FutureLearn and Coursera when it comes to free courses.


So, you see, teachers are the real-life’s superheroes. They deserve so much more recognition than they currently get. But this doesn’t stop them from doing their job with unparalleled passion and preparing tomorrow’s brilliant minds.

22 thoughts on “What makes a great teacher- 13 traits of a top educator”

  1. I love all these traits but sadly my son didn’t experience teachers with these traits when he went to secondary school.One of the reasons that I am now a home educator. Would be awesome if these traits were part of teacher training or teachers were given personality trait questionnaires before teacher training commenced. But then there could be less teachers qualifying which would only add to the decrease in teachers in the UK. So it’s a tough one!

  2. These are some amazing key traits which one can expect from his/her teacher. And yes but very difficult to find out all these traits

  3. I have always admired teachers, although I do not believe in the current education system in the United States. Handling the craziness they have to deal with in the classroom would be more than enough to break the average human being. They are some great, patient people

  4. Wow – you really gave this great thought. This is the perfect list. Thankfully this year we are really lucky with my kids teachers and they meet almost all of these criteria. One meets them all. I will be using this list as a reference for many years. Also just want to say : love the name of your blog!

    • Thank you very much, you are very kind, Lynda. I am glad that your kids have great teachers. It’s so important for the little ones to have a special kind of person to guide them.

  5. Hey, thanks for these tips! I am currently in a stage where I am thinking about taking teaching full-time and these have really helped enlighten me. Pinning!

  6. very good list you have…
    I’m a preschool teacher and I can attest to each one you’ve mentioned. Patience is another ; )
    Great teachers are some of the best role models for children, it’s important to do a good job in the educational field.

  7. This is really great, now where to find the great teachers, while there are many, not all are and very often you can not choose the teachers. So grateful my grandson is in a small private school with really Awesome teachers

  8. I’ve known so many teachers that has almost all of these traits. It makes me understand better what I need to be when I become one. Number is the greatest key.

  9. I love this, I was a TA briefly and these traits are so important. The the ability to build strong relationships with the rest of the staff is something that always gets overlooked when people get into teaching, and it something I sometimes struggled with. Glad to see it made the list!

    • That is completely true. That’s why teachers need to set realistic expectations for each student taking into consideration their skills.

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