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What makes a good teacher a great teacher?

So exactly what makes a good teacher? Here’s one attempt to gain an insight into the qualities that all great teachers have.


"Such an important and fundamental question; isn’t it?” Teachers are in a position to have a significant influence on the students they teach. There are probably one or more teachers from your past that have helped, stimulated, encouraged or even inspired you.

In some respects, any effort to create a definitive list is likely to fail because great teachers are as different as the students they teach. All teachers have their own unique mixture of qualities. It is this individuality that ultimately makes a teacher special. Each teacher is different, but nearly every great teacher has some fusion of the essential qualities of passion, inspiration, humour, respect and resourcefulness.

Passionate about teaching

Some of the best teachers I’ve known have had a passion that students had to be hushed to comprehend. They have a devotion to their subject. They exhibit fun and pleasure when their students achieve and improve their skills and knowledge in a specific area. A good teacher is able to communicate this passion; indeed they cannot hide it. What's more, you can't simply fake passion, all great teachers seem to have a real passion for their subject.

Challenging and inspiring

Teachers can, and do, improve lives. They can illuminate the darkest mind. They can create beliefs and behaviours, setting an example to follow. They can determine the choice of university and degree course. They can have a direct influence on careers. Inspirational teachers always set leading standards. They are not simply gracious, kind parental substitutes, they want to emphasize and get the best out of their students. They do not always agree with their students but they always encourage. They understand the learning system and the markers along the way. They are able to get the best out of the people they teach and it is often for this that they are profoundly admired.

“Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” (Anonymous)

Humorous and cheerful

Humour ignites our sense of wonder, which is where learning starts, so it seems logical that humour could upgrade memory, students like to laugh and also retain the knowledge of that specific information. I still remember that one teacher in particular, she was my all-time favourite! She could light up any room with her smile and good vibes, and she made everyone in her fourth-grade class feel so loved, and like they were the most precious person in the world; an image and memory I will always remember.

“A very wise old teacher once said: I consider a day's teaching wasted if we do not all have one hearty laugh.” - Gilbert Highet


Respect is important anywhere, anytime, to everyone, in fact, it keeps us conscious and reminds us to show proper gratitude towards others and toward things. The student-teacher relationship is very important. It is the key to being a great teacher. Great teachers care about their students and they care about passing on information in the right way. Respect performs a huge determinant in this. When the teacher respects the subject he teaches, the students are going to learn to respect it as well. It must be a mutual two-way process. Equally, students need to show respect for the effort the teacher makes and not take him/her for granted. Good communication skills, patience, open-mindedness and a positive attitude are key attributes of a great teacher.

Resourceful and open-minded

Being resourceful is one of the most important things in the pursuit of desiring to be a successful teacher. It is an important mindset to have, and it is especially relevant and helpful for students who have set up key goals and aspirations in their studying. Students will always appreciate a good opinion from an older, wiser and well-educated teacher.

The resourceful teacher should keep an open mind, value all kinds of different students, be respectful of different thoughts, views and suggestions and be open to considering new ideas. Teachers should always encourage their students to stay positive and work for their dreams.

To develop a resourceful mind the teacher should be constantly willing to improve himself, be open to learning new things and keep pace with each new generation. You can learn how to be a great teacher of English, with one of these teacher training courses.

Sometimes a teacher can be the determining factor in decision-making for college majors, careers, and goals.

So to all my various teachers, thank you for being as encouraging and supportive as possible and helping me get to where I am right now because I can't imagine being anywhere else.

© Farah Bangui March 2018

Damian breen
Damian Breen Managing Director

Damian spent some 22 years living and working in various different countries in Africa and the Middle East, for several different leading international airlines, in senior country and regional manager roles.