10 Ways to be a Great Teacher
1. Great teachers are positive: Being a positive teacher can be challenging because you’re often met with difficult problems and limited solutions. However, staying positive has a tremendous impact on your students. Great teachers find ways to see the bright side of situations.
2. Great teachers are builders: A great teacher bridges gaps and builds relationships, friendships, and community. A great teacher seeks to build community in the classroom, and they often find ways to spread that sense of community among the entire school.
3. Great teachers inspire: A great teacher inspires students—and other teachers—to be better. A great teacher uncovers hidden talents and helps to make seemingly impossible things possible.
4. Great teachers are confident: A great teacher is confident. This can mean having confidence in what you know and/or having confidence in your ability to teach content. However, truly great teachers have another kind of confidence. That’s the confidence that they are where they’re meant to be, and the time they are spending with their students will benefit everyone in a positive way—even when things get tough. This confidence is vital to being successful in your career.
5. Great teachers embrace change: School is meant to be a transformative place for students, but it should be just as transformative for teachers. If you expect students to be changed by their interaction with you, also expect to be changed by the interaction yourself. The education system will also change during your career; you will need to adjust your methods and approaches, too.
6. Great teachers value reflection: Every teacher will have things go well, but they will also have things go poorly. Reflection is key to being a great teacher. You have to be ready to be honest to yourself and your students—even when things go poorly because of something you did, and also when things go well because of something your students did. Teaching requires a willingness to cast a critical eye on your practice, your pedagogy, and yourself. This is a challenging but beneficial habit.
7. Great teachers model risk-taking: A great teacher will bring students out of their comfort zone—to take a risk to try something new or learn something unfamiliar. However, a great teacher shows students it’s okay to take risks by example. Be willing to go out on a limb or be a little “wacky” in the name of pedagogy. Students are more apt to remember the lesson, and also the risk.
8. Great teachers are kind: A great teacher shows kindness to students, colleagues, parents, and all those around them. The simple act of kindness can make students feel welcomed, cared for, and safe while they are in your class. This directly contributes to their learning, and to the characteristics they are developing as humans.
9. Great teachers are compassionate: Teaching is a very humanistic profession, and a great teacher shows compassion all the time. Compassion shows students patience, understanding, respect, and concern so they feel more comfortable and able to learn. Receiving compassion also helps students learn to be compassionate.
10. Great teachers are empathetic: A great teacher is able to “walk in someone else’s shoes.” A great teacher knows that not everyone’s had the same experiences or opportunities and this can affect the way a student learns and/or interacts. Having empathy helps a great teacher be there for students who fail tests, don’t make a team, are teased, lose a family member or pet; who have their hearts broken, experience depression or anxiety, are diagnosed with illness, or who don’t feel loved by anyone. By showing empathy, you will help students feel less judged, alone, or afraid—and you will show others that empathy can change lives.