What Makes a Teacher Great?

Scott Maxwell, 3D Realty Handshake, December 25, 2007, Creative Commons License

Every great teacher that I know has had a special kind of energy. The special kind of energy that makes it very clear that they are excited about teaching. They are willing to go the extra mile inside and outside of the classroom. They are willing to take risks by trying new methods in the classroom. They smile, laugh, and talk about how much they love teaching and their students. However, the most important focus of their excitement and energy is directed at relationships. These teachers use their love for education to build relationships with students, parents, and colleagues. If you truly know your students, and if you truly know the parents, you can better serve their needs. If teachers work hard at developing a relationship with their students, and if the students know that they are loved, they too will have an excitement for learning just like their teacher. Relationships also extend outside the classroom. Encouragement and collaboration among colleagues will make a teacher great. This type of teachers is willing to share resources, methods, projects, and ideas with other teachers.

Great teachers love their students, respect the parents, and collaborate with colleagues. Building and maintaining these relationships will make you great.

What do you think makes a teacher great?

This blog post was inspired by the Educational Leadership article What Makes a Teacher Great? from the Dec 2010/Jan 2011 issue.


  1. Kim Nelson said:

    I agree, you can tell when a teacher has a connection with students just by the ‘feel’ in a classroom! When a teacher is energized, the kids are energized as well. Passion driven, indeed!

    December 16, 2010
  2. John Rinker said:

    Couldn’t agree with you more Kevin! Relationship building is the fundamental activity in my classroom and with my colleagues. It is the most exciting and rewarding aspect of teaching- connecting with human beings every day. Thanks for these reaffirming thoughts.

    December 16, 2010
  3. Kevin Rohlfs said:

    When hiring teachers I look first at someone that I believe will be able to connect with our students. Learning will not take place for many students unless they feel the teacher cares about them as individuals first.

    December 16, 2010
  4. Energy. Enthusiasm. Passion. All of these describe the teachers we want students to experience. I would add collaborators. The best teachers are the ones who share what they have discovered and pay it forward. One of my favorite parts of each day is the time I spend talking with teachers, either in real time or on Twitter. This year I want to widen the circle to include parents more in the sharing of ideas. Thanks for a great post! I love that you described teachers as having a special kind of energy! Perfect.

    December 28, 2010
  5. Kevin, Here it is Dec 28th and I just read your post What Makes a Teacher Great on Connected Principal. Thanks to @MrWejr and @NancyTeaches for RT of the article. Your comments are perfectly aligned with my thinking. Great teachers have as their top priority Making Connections and Building Relations with students and staff. This enhances the learning for the students and builds the team spirit needed to have a warm. supportive learning climate in the school environment. Thanks for spread the word on connections and relationships. Happy New Year and wishing you all the best for 2011.

    December 28, 2010

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