What Are The Characteristics Of A Good Teacher?

By Peg Laflam

This article first appeared in NANthology, the NAN newsletter, in winter 1992.

There are three things that really stand out.

First, they glow with enthusiasm about their subjects and they spark similar enthusiasm in their students. They respect both their subject and their students. They do not lower the subject to the student’s level: they raise the student’s understanding to the level needed to master the material.

Second, they are sensitive judges of people. They expect students to work up to their potential. They know when and how to criticize and to praise, and they care enough to do it.

Education, needlework or otherwise, is a series of things: challenge, work, failure, determination, success, and joy. No matter what you are learning you must go through the same process. In each phase of the process, the teacher plays an important role and that is to spark in each student the willingness to take on a challenge; to help each of them understand that it takes work, and to help them develop the necessary skills, to prod, encourage, reassure, to congratulate and then to share in the joy of their success. So the third characteristic of a good teacher is the power to inspire.