3 Traits of Highly Effective Teachers

The effective teachers seem to, again and again, display certain characteristics; and the ones who aren't make the same mistakes repeatedly.

Creativity 8 min read Sep 25, 2019
3 Traits of Highly Effective Teachers

Regardless of what you actually learnt at school or what you remember from the years of attending school two things probably stick out – teachers just know stuff and you don’t seem to need a licence to teach.

As young learners most of us held teachers in high esteem– “How do they know so much stuff?”, and,“Why is Mr. C so bad and Mr. T so good?”

As we got older, we soon learned that teachers are as diverse in terms of knowledge, skills and personal qualities as any other profession; and that to expect all things from all teachers all of the time was probably going to be a perilous exercise.

That said over time, for one reason or another (for example a duster in the back of the head), we each developed a pretty good sense of the most consistent qualities that separated out the ‘good’ teachers from the ‘bad’.

ACTIVITY: Take a moment to conjure up an image of your best ever teacher (they may come from school, university, work, sport or life). Visualise the skills or attributes they displayed.

If we take a closer look at what you conjured up we could probably divide your thoughts into three (3) interrelated aspects.

The first is KNOWLEDGE – Teachers know stuff!
The second is SKILLS – Teachers do stuff!
The third is personal QUALITIES – Teachers exude stuff!

So good teachers don’t just know stuff – they also do particular things in particular ways. In fact, high quality teachers are well rounded and balanced in terms of each of knowledge, skills and personal qualities. Let’s take a closer look at each so that you can get the inside edge to becoming a more effective teacher.


Effective teachers know what they are talking about and how to teach it. They are also aware of the learning needs of their students.

Good teachers ask these questions and get the answers before students even enter their classes. Many beginning teachers trying to share their messages with people have good content but struggle with the how will I plan and teach this and the how do my learners like to learn questions.


Research suggests that quality teachers consistently and professionally perform well in terms of teaching pedagogies (skills or methods).

Good teachers:
Think about the content, audience, purpose, and process
Set big goals and develop specific plans for sharing information
Connect with their learners
Teach decisively and with purpose
Consider next steps via feedback and good evaluation

Good teachers use a variety of teaching and learning strategies that consistently engage and challenge learners. Many beginning teachers taking their messages to the masses need support in these how to skills of teaching.

Personal qualities

There are literally dozens of personal qualities, personality attributes and interpersonal characteristics that typify ‘good’ teachers.

Truth is many of us already have lots of these qualities but because we have to focus so much on getting the content across and/or on the how to teach aspects we forget to share a bit of ourselves with others.

Beginning teachers generally need assistance in building up their teaching and learning how to and dealing with nerves in order to be able to confidently and authentically share themselves and their content with their audience.

So the take home message is:

KNOWLEDGE – know your stuff!
SKILLS – know how to share your stuff!
QUALITIES – bring your uniqueness out when you talk about stuff!