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The Heart of Teaching: What It Means to Be a Great Teacher

The Heart of Teaching: What It Means to Be a Great Teacher

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Heart made with hands

What does it mean to be a great teacher? Of course credentials, knowledge, critical thinking, and all other faculties of intelligence are important. However, a great teacher should be much more than credentials, experience and intelligence.

What lies in the heart of a great teacher?

You are kind: a great teacher shows kindness to students, colleagues, parents and those around her/him. My favourite saying is “kindness makes the world go around”. It truly changes the environment in the classroom and school. Being a kind teacher helps students feel welcomed, cared for and loved.

You are compassionate: Teaching is a very humanistic profession, and compassion is the utmost feeling of understanding, and showing others you are concerned about them. A compassionate teacher models that characteristic to the students with her/his actions, and as a result students will be more open to understanding the world around them.

You are empathetic: Empathy is such an important trait to have and to try to develop in ourselves and our students. Being able to put yourself in someone’s shoes and see things from their perspective can have such a powerful impact on our decisions and actions.

You are positive: Being a positive person, is not an easy task. Being a positive teacher is even harder when we’re always met with problems with very limited solutions. However, staying positive when it’s tough can have such a tremendous positive impact on the students and everyone around us. Looking on the bright side always seems to help make things better.

You are a builder: A great teacher bridges gaps and builds relationships, friendships, and a community. Teachers always look to make things better and improve things in and outside of the classroom. Building a community is something a great teacher seeks to do in the classroom and extends that to the entire school and its community.

You inspire: Everyone looks at a great teacher and they want to be a better teacher, they want to be a better student, even better, they want to be a better person. A great teacher uncovers hidden treasures, possibilities and magic right before everyone’s eyes.

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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trejok3's picture

I believe that a great teacher must possess all the characteristics mentioned in this article. But the best quality that a teacher can have is what he or she inspires his or her student to do. My 9th-grade teacher possessed all the qualities, and she inspired me to become a teacher. She was so passionate at teaching, and she was always willing to help every single student. Everyone in the classroom admired and respected her because she was not only our teacher, she was also our role model.

Olatomi Famuyiwa's picture

A great teacher is a person who has the passion for teaching.A great teacher will always think of the children first in planning all class activities.A great teacher must also know how to identify and work on the children's innate potentials to make them great people in the future.

MelissaBelieve's picture

This blog post makes your tummy tingle with butterflies as if the many characteristics are describing you the "great teacher." Being a teacher isn't just keeping children entertained with lessons and activities, it's building a home away from home in your classroom. Allowing children to feel safe and secure while achieving their full potential in academics as well as social and emotional development. The impact a teacher has on the child comes from the enormous heart of a great teacher.

Rusul Alrubail's picture
Rusul Alrubail
Writer/Edutopia Community Facilitator/Chief Education Officer at The Writing Project

Thank you so much for your kind words Melissa, I totally agree with you that!

UHD18's picture

I absolutely love this blog. It touches each point that makes a great teacher. In order t connect with parents and students, you have to be compassionate and empathetic. I feel these are most important because it gives you the capacity to see and feel things from different perspectives. Seeing and feeling the world from different points is view is extremely important with our ever diverse population. Great post!!! With these qualities, we can all be great educators.

clandave's picture

I really enjoyed reading this blog! It lists just about all the common traits most teachers have. I think new teachers will enjoy reading this blog. I know that I will be saving it for my first day when I become a teacher. Being able to allow students to feel safe in the classroom, while at the same time teaching them new things has to be the best part of the job.

ready2teach's picture

I love and appreciate this blog. Teaching is a very special job and It takes a very special person to commit to it. There are some absolutely awesome and dedicated teachers who embodies most, if not all, of these traits. However, there are also some that equate to glorified babysitters. For those that are looking to embrace the journey of becoming a teacher, this blog is a great check list for them to use as they decide if this is actually the field for them. For those veterans, this can be a reminder of just how important they are to those their students.

shgurl21's picture

Ateacher has the heart and dedication on spending quality time with their students. A teacher gets to know what it takes to teach their kids valuable information that could be later in life if needed. No teacher is worthless with the mentoring they do to help kids in need of it. Passion and motivation are also other qualities that are needed to be a great teacher in the classroom.

uhd21's picture

I agree with every comment on here. I also love this blog. I feel like it should be read by teachers every year to remind them of why they became a teacher. I believe everyone has all these traits when they start and then somewhere something happens and teachers forget why they are teaching. It is up to us as teachers to keep our cool and be that guiding light and inspire our students to be the best they can be. I know how hard it is to be positive and how easy it is to be negative. As teachers we have to show our students that everyday is a fresh and positive start.

monsieur henry's picture
monsieur henry
French Educator

I am in great support of this post. A teacher is a Life Builder, a teacher is a root that brings to survive and the sustainability of the entire whole of all other professions. As a teacher, i have being able to unveil the hidden treasures in my students, i make them realized that they have the capacity to become who they really want to be in life.

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