For 15 years, college instructor Robert Walker gave his education majors a writing assignment asking them to describe the outstanding qualities of the teachers who impacted their lives.
He discovered that the most common theme among his students’ writings —when recalling the teachers who made the most impact on them—was an emotional connection. Can it be that the way to your students’ heads is through their hearts? What an encouraging idea!
We’ve compiled Professor Walker’s adapted summary of his students’ memories of their most effective teachers. We can all strive to embody the qualities these students responded so well to.
12 Characteristics of an Effective Teacher
The most effective teachers come to class each day ready to teach that day’s lesson. They:
- Jump right into the lesson with enthusiasm.
- Avoid wasting instructional time. They start class on time, teach for the entire class period, and time flies in their classes.
The most effective teachers have optimistic attitudes about teaching and their students. They always:
- Look on the bright side of every situation.
- Communicate with students about their progress.
- Praise and recognize students for hard work.
- Help students act kindly toward one another.
3. Hold High Expectations
The most effective teachers believe every student can be successful. They:
- Hold students to the highest standards.
- Consistently challenge their students to realize their potential.
- Build students’ confidence and teach them to believe in themselves.
The most effective teachers are resourceful and inventive in their teaching methods. They:
- Might wear a clown suit if the class reaches its academic goal.
- Agree to participate in the school talent show.
- Use technology effectively in the classroom.
The most effective teachers handle students and grading fairly. They:
- Allow all students equal opportunities and privileges.
- Provide clear requirements.
- Recognize that “fair” means giving every student an opportunity to succeed.
- Understand that not all students learn in the same way and at the same rate.
6. Display a Personal Touch
The most effective teachers are approachable and friendly. They:
- Connect with students personally.
- Are genuinely interested in who their students are as people.
- Visit the students’ world. For instance, they sit with them in the cafeteria; they attend sporting events, plays, and other events outside normal school hours.
7. Cultivate a Sense of Belonging
The most effective teachers have a way of making students feel welcome and comfortable in their classrooms.
- Have a warm, welcoming attitude that helps students know they belong in your classroom.
- Communicate how much they love teaching and prefer it to other occupations.
The most effective teachers are concerned about students’ personal problems and can relate to them. Numerous stories established how the sensitivity and compassion of caring teachers affected them in profound and lasting ways. They:
- Understand when students are having a difficult time and act accordingly.
- Remember that students are people with lives outside of the classroom, just like teachers.
9. Have a Sense of Humor
The most effective teachers do not take everything seriously and make learning fun. They:
- Use humor to break the ice in difficult situations.
- Bring humor into the everyday classroom.
- Laugh with the class but never at the expense of any particular student.
10. Respect Students
The most effective teachers do not deliberately embarrass students. Teachers who give the highest respect get the highest respect. They:
- Respect students’ privacy when returning test papers.
- Speak to students in private concerning grades or conduct.
- Always avoid situations that unnecessarily embarrass students.
The most effective teachers do not hold grudges. They:
- Forgive the students.
- Start each day with a clean slate.
- Understand that disruptive or antisocial behavior can quickly turn a teacher against a student, but that refusing to give up on a difficult student can produce success.
12. Admit Mistakes
The most effective teachers are quick to admit it when they’re wrong. They:
- Apologize to mistakenly accused students.
- Make adjustments when students point out errors and oversights.
Lessons in Love Seen in Scripture
God tells us throughout His Word that love creates more love. It teaches lessons and deepens relationships. As teachers, we can all strive to show more love in our classrooms. Here are a few encouraging verses to help guide your daily path:
God’s greatest lessons are taught from a loving heart.—1 John 4:7, 11–12
Service to God and others creates and builds love.—John 14:15; 21:17
The ability to love is deepened by a relationship with God.—1 John 4:7