Effective teachers are critical to the development and academic success of students. If you are looking to become a good teacher, you need to showcase strong skills in communication, teamwork, time management, problem-solving, and organization. Then you should put these skills to work to educate your students.

Good teachers often have these qualities and characteristics:

  1. Effective goal-setting

  2. Clear communication

  3. Acting as a role model

  4. Adaptability and flexibility

  5. Preparation

  6. Self-reflection

  7. Life-long learning

  8. Promoting a love of learning

This article explores what these characteristics entail and offers tips on how you can develop them to become a strong teacher.

How can I be a good teacher?

Good teachers are life-long learners dedicated to the academic development of students. They typically continue their own education to further develop their methods and skills. In seeking to become a strong teacher, you should look to build and hone the following characteristics:

1. Effective goal-setting

The most effective teachers know how to set clear objectives for individual students, single lessons, their entire class, and themselves. Developing goals can assist with gauging academic performance while giving students clear directives on how to improve. Goals are also an important part of setting and measuring challenges, both for the students and the teacher. You can set clear objectives with the following steps:

Check for understanding

Instead of waiting to test students’ knowledge in a test, check for comprehension during each lesson. This process allows you to answer student questions and provide a deeper understanding of the topic for students.

Offer feedback

Feedback allows students to know how their performance matches up with your expectations. Feedback that is timely, detailed and constructive can assist students in understanding academic expectations.

2. Clear communication

Teachers use verbal and nonverbal communication skills to identify student needs and to know when to listen versus when to talk. Teachers also use developed written communication skills to report information to parents and other school professionals. You can develop these skills with the following tips:

Use active listening skills

Instead of preparing how to respond, use active listening skills when communicating and listen to understand the other person’s needs. Give yourself a few seconds after the question to decide how to respond so that you can truly focus on what the student, parent or fellow teacher is saying.

Ask for clarification when needed

If you do not fully understand what the other person needs, ask them to rephrase their question or request. You can also repeat what you understood in your own words to assess what part of their request needs more clarification.

3. Acting as a role model

Setting rules and encouraging certain behaviors is a good step toward student development. Teachers who model the same behaviors they ask from their students are more likely to help students cultivate desirable habits and behaviors. You can be a role model for your students with the following tips:

Be aware of your behavior

Students observe and learn how to speak, act, treat others and other developmental behaviors. Modeling behaviors of patience, understanding, empathy and communication can encourage students to develop these same skills.

Create an environment of honesty

Encourage your students to be honest with one another through mediating open conversations. You can model honest behavior by sharing your intentions behind classroom decisions to help students better empathize with you and your position. This step can translate into students evaluating their own intentions and how they impact others, increasing empathy and honesty. 

4. Adaptability and flexibility

Each student comes from a unique background with individual personalities, educational needs and developmental milestones. Teachers find that while one lesson plan or method of teaching works well with one type of student, it does not work well with another student. Good teachers learn how to adjust to meet the individual needs of each student. You can learn to adjust using the following steps:

Celebrate students’ individuality

Create an environment of acceptance by encouraging creativity, freedom of thought and questions in the classroom. Accept students where they are at developmentally and academically. When students feel comfortable and accepted, they also feel more comfortable asking questions and learn.

Identify different learning styles

Good teachers can identify the individual learning needs of their students while also creating lesson plans that cater to their academic style. For example, some students may learn best in a lecture classroom whereas other students are better able to grasp information with hands-on learning opportunities. Consider blending methods in lessons to appeal to more students at one time.

5. Preparation

In addition to learning to adjust to individual student needs, effective teachers also learn to prepare for every possible scenario. Preparation can promote trust and comfort in the classroom, and it allows teachers to create lesson plans that are catered to the individual needs of each student. Use the following tips to become more prepared:

Create intentional lesson plans

The most effective teachers create lesson plans with intention by considering the ways the lesson plan could shift as well as the potential emotions, thoughts and concerns that each lesson plan could bring up with each student. Teachers can also define each lesson’s purpose to ensure students understand why they are learning that specific topic.

Understand strengths and weaknesses

It can also be useful to create lesson plans based on the strengths and weaknesses of each classmate. Getting to know these areas of improvement early on can assist you in creating classroom plans that are catered to the individual needs of your students.

6. Self-reflection

Self-reflection is a person’s ability to reflect on their own needs, desires and interests that can lead to self-acceptance as well as academic success. Teachers who are reflective of their own strengths, weaknesses and characteristics as a teacher and are intentional about improvement are better able to encourage the same level of self-reflection from their students. You can encourage this in your classroom with the following tips:

Designate time

Designate a time each day to focus on self-reflection activities. Encourage students to evaluate their own progress for the day and come up with ways they can do better tomorrow. Promote self-evaluation with the focus on improvement by having self-reflection time after a big test or near the end of the semester’s class.

Offer privacy

Some students can be hesitant with self-reflection, so good teachers encourage students to share when they are comfortable and allow them to remain private when they are not. Journals can be a great way to encourage self-reflection without requiring students to share their insights with the entire classroom.

7. Life-long learning

Teachers are often required to complete continuing education courses and encouraged to pursue professional development opportunities to best serve their students. Teachers can employ their continuing education in the following ways:

Prepare for the changing classroom

Courses in child psychology allow teachers to keep up to date as emotional development strategies change. Technological courses help teachers make the most of the new tools in the classroom.

Encourage personal and professional development in the classroom

Continuing education classes allow you to develop your teaching skills, which can demonstrate to your students that you value self-improvement. You can also use the same study techniques you teach your students to prove how impactful they can be.

8. Promoting a love of learning

Good teachers also make learning enjoyable by educating students in a way that is engaging and appeals to students’ interests. When students enjoy learning, they are more likely to participate in the classroom, perform better academically and value continued education. You can instill positive feelings in your students in the following ways:

Use alternative methods of teaching

The best teachers aim to try something new to make any topic more entertaining. Turn a lesson into a game, performance or music. This step can help students want to learn and even promote creativity, critical thinking and collaboration skills they can apply outside the classroom as well.

Ask for feedback

Good teachers ask their students for feedback to identify if students are struggling with a specific lesson plan and the elements they like and dislike about a lesson or topic. You can apply feedback to create a lesson plan that works for them and even come up with new areas to explore that best engage them in the classroom.