There are two types of teachers we remember in our lives.
One: The scary, unapproachable teacher who never wants to hear criticism, publicly humiliates students, and treats you like you’re the most stupid kid they’ve known.
Two: The good teacher whose words of wisdom and warm nature inspired you to learn more and become an educator yourself.
Teachers and educators mold the minds of the children they handle in class. The type of teacher one falls into can make or break a student’s approach to learning, information, and life.
So: If you’re heeding the call of shaping minds and want to leave a positive mark on your students, then take note of these 10 key personality traits of a good teacher.
Read on to know more!
On the first day of classes, the first thing students try to glean from their teachers is whether or not they’re approachable.
Why, you ask? Well, it’s because this personality trait dictates how confident a student will feel about asking questions or correcting information being taught to them.
The best students there are the ones who can think for themselves. And that begins with asking questions.
A bad teacher will filter students’ questions as either smart or stupid. But for a good teacher, all questions are good questions and deserve a reasonable answer.
So ask yourself: Are you approachable enough for your students to be comfortable sharing knowledge?
If so, then you’re off to a very good start!
The second thing students try to see in their teachers is creativity. This is what can make your subject a student’s favorite.
According to a study by Chen and Yuan, a teacher’s imagination and vision for their class can greatly affect students’ open-mindedness and approach to discussions. In other words, creativity is the secret ingredient behind a student’s interest in a lesson.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re arts and literature or physics and calculus; a creative approach to teaching goes a long way.
Creativity can come in many forms:
- Your presentation slides
- The way you greet your students each day
- Interactive lessons
- Game show-type quizzes
- Group activities about the scientific “magic”
- Trivia like the golden ratio, fractals, or unsolved mysteries in mathematics
The more creative the activity, the more engaged your students will be!
3) Active listening
Now this trait is the true test between a good teacher and a bad teacher.
Why? Because listening is a skill even the common person struggles with. There are so many misunderstandings and conflicts which have arisen because people don’t know how to listen.
Usually, most of us just take keywords our brains comprehend and form a thought from the fragmented ideas without clarifying whether we actually understood something or not.
Students suffer from this a lot. Hence, the need to repeat a lesson sometimes (but we’ll get to that later).
But what most of us don’t know is that teachers also suffer from poor listening.
Contrary to what we know, the foundation of teaching lies in knowing how to listen.
It’s through listening that you can figure out the right topics to put into your syllabus to maximize the momentum of learning. It’s also when you listen that you can gather new information from your students that you might not have read about yet.
Thus, it’s best not to shut down ideas and information offered by students, no matter how bizarre they may sound.
Try to listen to them as often as you can. Some of these kids may just be the new seed of innovation the world is waiting for. And that seed will grow under your supervision.
Have you ever met a teacher whose patience is always as thin as ice? How often did you attend their class? What lessons do you remember from them?
That’s right! Close to nothing.
Why? Because impatient teachers only instill fear and hesitation in students.
A lack of patience in a teacher does not teach students discipline. Instead, it transforms children into timid pushovers, who will say yes to anything just because an authority figure said so.
This is counterproductive when you want to mold students into being creative and critical thinkers.
But this comes with moderation. Because patience doesn’t mean obliterating boundaries.
At the end of the day, students should acknowledge and respect a teacher’s authority just as much as a teacher should be patient enough about the pace at which each student learns.
Remember that life is a race, not a marathon. The same goes for learning, as it is a life-long process.
In connection to the last point, empathy is the trait that can help you extend more patience towards your students.
A good teacher is someone who knows how to put themselves in their students’ shoes. They try their best to understand students in order to know how best they can absorb the lessons being taught in class.
This is especially helpful when there’s one student who’s pacing a little slower than the others, or is suddenly missing requirements or classes altogether.
We’ve all heard of these situations from students. Maybe a relative died, or they got sick for a month, or they’re being bullied, or they just simply can’t understand what’s happening in class.
All these things are perfectly normal.
Practicing empathy during these situations helps a teacher tailor the lesson in a way that helps the lagging student keep up with everyone else.
I mean, the goal of putting children in a class is for them to be able to learn socially. So it’s the job of a good teacher to offer a boost to students who need it.
You may be thinking whether this point is the opposite of empathy.
The answer is: no. In fact, fairness both balances and enhances empathy towards students.
How, you ask? While empathy deals with equity, fairness deals with equality. And you need both in order to sustain a well-motivated classroom!
When a good teacher is fair, they present students with equal opportunities. This encourages students to help each other, to collaborate, and at times, to engage in healthy competition with one another.
Setting a fair grading system is fair, but so is offering incentives for jobs well done on tests and activities. Fairness also means offering reasonable penalties to students for their behavior and performance.
You may think this can be a lot to get right immediately. And you’re correct about that!
Which is why it’s important for teachers to have this innate sense of fairness and a proper moral compass before they take on the role of educator.
Because, truth be told, there is no formula for being fair.
Adaptation is an innate trait of being a human being. We were built to be adaptable. In fact, our species survives because of adaptability.
So, it is only reasonable for a good teacher to have this trait!
This is important especially in cases when natural disasters strike your town or your entire country. How will your syllabus adapt to the unforeseen event?
Or, let’s say, your entire class failed your exam! How will you adjust your teaching style so they’d perform better in the next one?
Or what if a student presents new information which debunks the one you put in your presentation slides? How will you deal with this new information and with the student?
All these things (and more) correspond to being an adaptable person.
Change is the only constant thing, as they say. And if so, how do we ride the waves of change when it comes our way?
8) Drive for self-improvement
While adaptability is a trait pertaining to personal change in relation to external forces, the drive for self-improvement pertains to change for the sake of progress.
As someone who shapes the minds of children, a good teacher should have the innate desire to improve themselves the longer they teach.
What this does is cement their credibility as an educator and make sure that each batch of students they handle will receive better and better quality learning, which is the goal of progress.
A good teacher with a drive for self-improvement will jump on the first opportunity for seminars, webinars, or masterclasses about teaching and learning. This is all the more important considering education studies are still a young and developing field.
Not only that, but a teacher who wants to improve themselves will encourage students to do the same, creating a healthy habit and thirst for learning which will never be quenched.
So if you want to be a good teacher, then you should love being a lifelong student of knowledge!
Teachers become students’ role models. Their personality and work ethic can be the standard of what a student should be– or shouldn’t be.
One thing that demotivates a student from coming to class is having a teacher who often skips classes, doesn’t teach properly, and has a very questionable system for grading work!
This is especially important for younger kids, who have a tendency to mimic the attitudes and quirks of their teachers.
So, ask yourself: Are you someone your students can rely on to become better people and citizens?
If so, keep it going. If not, then a personality check might be in order before it’s too late!
The last, but certainly not the least, personality trait a good teacher should have? Passion.
If we look at the list above, all those nine points are fueled by this trait. Passion is something a good teacher embodies both inside and outside the classroom.
Passionate individuals always have a way of keeping their flame going no matter the circumstance. Even if there are days when that fire will burn weaker than usual, a truly passionate teacher will be able to keep their head high and stoke the flame by showing up.
This trait starts way before a person recognizes that they have a gift for molding young minds.
It will manifest even in small moments outside office hours, like reading new studies or helping a lost person with directions. And it will continue way past the last day the teacher steps out of a classroom.
A passion for teaching is very hard to find. And as such, when you realize you have it in you, try to nurture it as you would the young minds you plan on guiding in the future.
Can you become a good teacher?
If you don’t tick all the items on this list, don’t fret! That doesn’t mean you won’t become a good teacher yourself.
These key personality traits only serve as a guide for you to be aware of where you stand right now. You can choose to tweak, enhance, or dial down some things as you go.
Being an educator is a lifelong process. It involves a lot of trial and error, adjustments, and self-awareness in order to get it right.
The truth is: There is no clear-cut way to measure whether or not you are a good teacher.
You may get it wrong with one student and do better with another. At the end of the day, you’re still a person who’s on the journey of learning more and learning anew each day.
As long as you’ve got the desire to keep growing and becoming a better teacher, you’ll be someone who inspires your students!