articles, opinions, and research about teaching and learning

What Makes a Good Teacher?

UNESCO published a book entitled What makes a Good Teacher? (1996). Over 500 children from some 50 countries aged 8-12 contributed their opinions. What follows are some of their responses. You can also submit your ideas on the topic.

Response from our Web visitors

  • A great teacher Interacts with the child (physically, and mentally)
  • A great teacher gives affection to the pupils, makes them understand what emotion is.
  • A great teacher smiles to his/her pupils even when they screw him up.
  • A great teacher teaches not only text book materials but also The truth that's happening outside. Practice balanced with theory.
  • A great teacher dedicates him/herself to the job. They made a commitment. Then they have to do it.
  • A great teacher understands that a child is not only a tiny bundle of joy that can cry, smile, laugh. He/she must understand that in front of him stands a true miracle of life.
Yuventius, Jakarta, Indonesia

A good teacher is someone who teaches not only with mind, but also with heart.

Syanne Helly, East Java, Indonesia

A teacher should have 3 essential qualities.....

There is a saying,"GIVE ME A FISH AND I EAT FOR A DAY, TEACH ME TO FISH AND I EAT FOR A LIFE TIME". This must be a philosophy of a good teacher... She/he should be patient and kind, flexibile and resourceful, tolerant and open minded with a good sense of humour. Enthusiastic and enjoys teaching. should be honest, imaginative and creative. Efficient. Self-disciplined. Helpful. Humble and modest........ In my opinion teacher should be like this.


One who help his students in all respects. He makes his students able to live better life. He teaches students to take decisions in all the conditions. Who is good teacher for his students and also good students for his students and society, having moral character and model for building new good society.

Prafull Bhasarkar, Babupeth, Chandrapur, India

I think that a good teacher should be a good and complete person: curious, passionate, interested about their pupils' interests, wishes, feelings... A really good teacher should be child in his soul which mean, creative, imaginative and ready for exploration etc.

Mirjana Kazija, Rijeka, Croatia

I was graduated as a teacher of english in Albania.What really makes a very good teacher is having a lot of intuition and intelligence because having these qualities you will have the power to understand your students'phsycology and behaviour and helping them out would be much easier.A teacher should also be super comprensive to understand what's going on in the students'world.And a teacher should the subject that he/she is teaching.

Migena Mullaj, Reseda, California, USA

  • A good teacher makes herself available to all students, however, knows which students need extra assistance.
  • A good teacher is an effective communicator, however, who knows when she needs to change her communicating techniques to be sure students can grasp instructional concepts.
  • A good teacher allows students to ask questions, however, does not answer questions without drawing from other students' learning experience first.
  • A good teacher has classroom rules and procedures which help students know what is expected from them and how the students can help themselves.
  • A good teacher encourages cooperation and sets an example with other students and faculty.
  • A good teacher is flexible and able to change lessons "spur of the moment" in order to accommodate the needs of her students.
  • A good teacher respects all students and encourages good performance.

Marie Garcia, Oyster Bay, NY, USA

A great teacher can be defined by two simple words. Best friend. Who better to trust than a best friend? Who better to love and be loved in return than a best friend? Who better to gain knowledge from, than a best friend? Finally, who better to remember throughout the days of your life, than a best friend? Let's all be teachers, shall we?

Marco Melendez, San Angelo, Texas, USA

  • A teacher must have motherly love with their students (Means he should be a mother in the school).
  • He must have Moral character and honesty.
  • He must be well prepared with his subjects.
  • He must have a good knowledge of his subjects.
  • Physically and mentally fit for the job.
  • He should be active and smart in the classroom.
  • While teaching he should use so many support materials.
  • The support material should be prepared himself.
  • The pupils should be joyful in the class.

Laxman Wadgire, Yavatmal, Maharashtra, India

A good teacher of children understands childhood in an engaging way. She understands that childhood culture is more universal than adult culture, and therefore easier to engage with any place any time.


Everybody will have their own opinion on this because it is impossible to please everybody at the same time. It is very difficult to say what a good teacher is when I am still a student and have seen my share of what a teacher should do. I think that the qualities that a teacher should maintain are the abilities to relate to their students on their on level, make learning fun and easy to understand, be nice so students will listen, make the kids look forward to entering the classroom, and above all.... maintain control.

Katie, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.A.

"When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece" (Ruskin) It is fundamental that a teacher cares about humanity in general. Once we love, enjoy and appreciate the individuality of each and every child in our classroom - everything else falls into place. A good teacher takes cognisance of the fact that they are role models for children remembering that we teach more by what we do than by what we say! This is a challenge for the best of us!!!!

Judith Butler, county Cork, Ireland

Using his/her heart in teaching,he/she must love children and able to bring satisfaction in learning.

Dwi Rahayu, Jakarta,Indonesia

A good teacher is someone who can learn from his students, who can learn with them, and for them. He also must be honest in his relationships with students, and proud enough about his own value to work, from there, on helping his students to build their own self esteem.

Christian Berger, Santiago, Chile

A good teacher is someone who is a learner herself.

Astrid, Perth, WA, Australia

One who has no bias, no fixed point of view, open eyes to see and explore life and learning itself, is the best teacher for he is a child too!

Ashish, Mumbai, Maharshtra, India

I think a good teacher should always show his students the values behind the items he/she is teaching in an exciting and friendly way.

Aly AlSabbagh, Cairo, Egypt

I have been reading through this column - "What makes a good teacher?" The qualities mentioned are great, no doubt, but if a little bit more is added to the forum, I believe the teacher will be a model teacher.

  • The teacher should be loving, know the children personally in order to help them with their problems.
  • Caring and sharing nature will help the teacher to know the children better.
  • Children love and like the teachers more in whom they can confide.

To win their confidence should be the teacher's first aim - though strictness has to be in its place.

vinod Bala Jain, Meerut, U.P., India

A good teacher represents some of the following qualities:
  • has to be interested in his own subjects and at the same time open-minded for others and other topics.
  • has to be strict, self-confident and show authority, but at the same time he has to be the pupils' "helper" and quite often even something like their friend who they can talk to if problems occur.
  • has therefore to find a balance between him representing an authority or a friend.
  • likes to work with children.
  • enjoys teaching.
  • arrives in time to start a lesson and ends a lesson in time because of good organisation and planning.
  • uses different methods to liven up his lessons and therefore keep his pupils' attention.
  • has to gain the pupils' interest in his subject.
  • conveys information and keeps the pupils' attention.
  • has to be patient.

A good teacher still remains a human being like you and me so that it is obvious that the qualities listed above are useful to keep in mind to be or become a good teacher, but they are only few of the qualities teachers need to "survive" in their everyday life.

Birte Schneeweiß, Dagmar Schulz, Berit Hencke, Kiel, Germany

A good teacher needs (besides a lot of other important features) to provide feedback and consequences to students. It makes no sense if a teacher tells a pupil to leave the class five times. Advice can only be useful if they are taken seriously. Apart from that a good teacher, of course, has to be humorous, friendly (but not too friendly), and well prepared for the lessons. And it is important for a teacher to find the right way between passion for his subject and the interests of the class.

Thomas Tschirner, Kiel, Germany

In brief, a teacher needs self-confidence and knowledge about her subject(s), but the most important thing is that a teacher has to enjoy what she does! She has to be enthusiastic and she has to have a true interest in her pupils!!!

Hannah Gunther, Kiel, Germany

A good teacher

  • has to be patient
  • wants to improve his teaching methods
  • has mastery of his/her subject
  • has to be motivated to give his/her pupil the same interest for the subject that he has
  • has to understand how children act
  • has to remember how it was when he/she was a child

Franziska Lindenthal, Kiel, Germany

A good teacher should be friendly and consequently should listen to the pupils and he/she should care for every pupil in the class.

Christiane Stroeher, Kiel, Germany

A good teacher is well prepared for every session; knows what and how children/pupils want to learn about his/her subject and is so interested in pupils behaviour...; a teacher needs to be respected by the pupils as the teacher of the subject and so talk in a firm and gentle voice; has to make pupils feel successful and of course tries to really make them a successful student of his subject; he has to express/radiate his interest to his subject in a way that the pupils can feel it and start feeling the same...

Torben Wolgast, Kiel, Germany

A teacher should have various qualities. First of all he/she should love to be a teacher and fond of his/her subjects. He/she should be patient with his/her students and be able to explain the subject matter to them well. His/her class should be a mixture of learning by doing and theoretical learning and should be fun as well. A teacher should be a person you can always speak to and be able to give you some advice in case you need help. He/she also needs to be friendly but also a little strict so students pay respect.

Claudia Thiel, Kiel, Germany

A Teacher must know well about:
  • psychology of children
  • education psychology
  • his duties and obligations
  • the parental behaviour
  • the methods and techniques of teaching/learning.
  • Besides,he must have up-to-date knowledge of the subjects he is teaching.

Sajjad Haider, Islamabad, Pakistan

I want to be a guide for "my children": I want them to look to the world, ask themselves questions, see that they can do something, be surprised and curious to learn, grateful for what they have and have respect for eachother and for others... There are so many things that we can do.

Maaike Corteville, Ingelmunster, Belgium

A good teacher is the one who:

  1. is a master in the subjects taught.
  2. always thinks to improve the teaching techniques.
  3. always tries to produce quality students (quality results).
  4. does 'needs assessments' to help students meet the requirements.
  5. Mohamad Hazawawi Yusof, Perak, Malaysia

One who doesn't 'teach' but instead is willing to 'learn' with the child and from the child. The minute one thinks one 'knows' something that very moment he/she doesn't!

Vivekananda Roy Ghatak, Gujarat, India

  1. A good teacher is the one that takes his/her own initiatives to prepare the students to become valuable assets to his/her own country.
  2. A good teacher is the one who cares and is committed to his/her work for the children.
  3. A good teacher is the one with a big HEART.
  4. A good teacher is the one that provides good coaching for his/her students.
  5. A good teacher is the one that has excellent end results.
  6. Stanley Ret, Colonia, Yap State FM

A good teacher never forgets what it is like to be a learner - vulnerable, anxious and dependent! Remembering this, a good teacher looks at a student and sees "only the soul of a human being". A student is a teacher's equal - both leading each other to grow in knowledge, both learning about 'self' and not playing a power struggle for today, both smiling in satisfaction for a job well done!

Susan Sheldon, USA

One who is child friendly, caring, kind hearted, humble, patient, who has the fear of God, who is always ready to give a listening ear, who is not jealous (because most teachers are always jealous and envious of their students), a motherly love.

I feel there should be a rule and punishment for teachers who maltreat and call children names. Teachers are suppose to be children's best friends instead they are their worst enemies. In fact, some children refuse to go to school because of their teachers. Children are not suppose to learn with fear.

I work with a children NGO and they children complain a lot to me about their teachers.

Ngozi Ekwerike, Nigeria

A real friend is someone who knows all about you and still he loves you. A good teacher is a good friend. A good teacher is someone who teaches us like children with love.

Arif Raza, Pakistan

  1. Good teaching is keeping yourself in the shoes of your students.
  2. A good teacher should live his/her life in such a way that those who are watching him/her will not be led astray.
  3. A good teacher should have a teachable heart.
  4. Fe Espiritu, Philippines

A good teacher does not dictate what is written on the book or the curricullum. A good teacher shows the whole wide world to the students.

Mario Martino Rustan (age 18), Indonesia

Today's child will be a man of tomorrow.
Teachers must be a symbol of kindness and love.

Zahid Shah, Pakistan

I think a good teacher must guide the student throughout his needs, both textual and personal. He should love, serve and honour the child.

Amritanshu, India

A good teacher is like a loving parent... fair, respectful, flexible and able to bounce back after even the gravest challenges.

Enitan Mason, USA

A good teacher means someone who plays a role as children's mate in learning, and she/he should be someone who thinks and acts at the best of her/his children's view and growth.

Linda Ivonne, Indonesia

A good teacher is one who challanges her students to be all that they can be.

from Barbara Murphy, USA

Everyone in the world is a teacher in a sense. We all teach something to someone at one point in our lives. However, some of us succed to be great teachers. I believe this happens when a teacher believes in the power of education. When you teach with the certitude that everyone can learn from you. When the student does not learn the way the teacher teaches, then the good teacher teaches the way the student learns.

Ana Laura Garcia Gutierrez, Special Education Teacher, Mexico

  1. A good teacher must be prepared to be foolish if that will help his pupil attain wisdom.
  2. A good teacher, like the good shepherd, must "lay down his life" (sacrifice all) so that the pupil can be solidly grounded in wisdom and understanding.
  3. A good teacher derives absolute satisfaction from seeing his pupil contribute to making life more meaningful to fellow human beings.
  4. A good teacher is always willing to learn from (and of) his pupil.
  5. A good teacher sits at his pupil's feet tirelessly.
  6. A good teacher disciplines himself before anyone else.
  7. Ruth Agamah, Nigeria

A good teacher is someone who will do everything in their power to make every child feel loved and sucessful in some way because all children learn differently and are their own unique individuals.

Mary Kalix, USA

A good teacher must be patient, with gentle but firm voice, can go down to the level of his pupils and willing to learn from them.

from Regina Z. Ubana, Philippines

To be a good teacher, it is fundamental:

  • to feel like a child
  • to think like a child
  • to act like a child
  • to reason and react as an understanding adult, remembering that one has once been a child, and it's time to revive that child
  • from Oscar Pacheco

A good teacher must first have been a good student.

from Deborah Barger, USA

"A good teacher is one who can express his\her point of view clearly, who can understand a child's problem, who is ready to help at any time, who knows what is right and what is wrong. A teacher who is very hardworking and friendly too. Who can light the future of child."

from Aruna Hissaria

(submit your opinions on what makes a good teacher)

from UNESCO (1996) What makes a good teacher? Paris: UNESCO

The teacher is to the students what the rain is to the field.
Zaira Alexandra Rodriguez Guijarro, 11, (Mexico)

A good teacher should treat all pupils like his own children. He should answer all questions, even if they are stupid.
Fatoumata, 11, Chad

To become a good teacher, you not only teach the children but you also have to learn from them.
Tasha-Leigh, 12, Jamaica

A good teacher answers the needs of the pupils and not only the needs of the chosen programme.
Omar, 12, Morocco

I like a teacher who helps me think and get answers for myself.
Bongani Sicelo, 9, Zimbabwe

Others have emphasised the central role of teachers:

see Delors, J. (1996) Learning: The Treasure Within Paris: UNESCO

Teacher Dale Gordon has written her own manifesto for helping her students learn.

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Last revised December 16, 2001
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