Qualities of an Outstanding Educator

The Most Important Qualities of an Outstanding Educator.

The teacher of the year award and similar awards recognize outstanding educators. When I read articles about teachers of the year, I wonder about the qualities those individuals must possess in order to garner such a highly regarded honor. What makes these professionals stand out above all other educators? One might question the students to find out why a particular teacher was honored. Those students would say:

“She made learning fun. Every class was exciting.”

“She never gave up helping me. She would not stop trying until I understood the material.”

“She was able to answer all our questions about the subject and provided us with information and resources to further our learning. I felt prepared for the next school year.”

A fellow educator would hear these answers as examples of the teacher’s ability to engage students in every lesson, her desire for all students to succeed, and her competence in subject matter. Although an outstanding educator exudes many other characteristics, these three qualities are essential for one to be considered an outstanding, high-quality teacher.

High-quality teachers will find ways to engage each and every student. Students learn best when they are engaged. A great teacher knows her students well enough to know what instructional techniques and activities best engage them. When a teacher uses a relevant video clip to explain a difficult concept or specifically crafts active lessons for a class of kinesthetic learners, that teacher is finding ways to connect her students to her lesson.  When students relate and connect to the material, they immerse themselves in the content instead of daydreaming or becoming off task. While fully immersed in the material, they learn and absorb important concepts and skills. Therefore, establishing methods to fully engage each student in every lesson is an essential quality for a teacher.

Once the teacher has her students fully engaged in the lesson, a superior teacher desires her students to successfully meet the learning outcomes. Due to this desire, she sets high standards and high expectations for all students. According to the self-fulfilling prophecy, students will perform to their teacher’s expectations. If a teacher sets her standards high for everyone, the students will strive to their full potential for that class and sometimes will strive to their full potential in every class. If a student is struggling, this teacher will have the patience to try different methods of instruction until the student understands because she genuinely wants every student to succeed. Without this desire, a teacher would not be motivated to provide as many tools and techniques to help students achieve high standards of learning, which is another indicator of an outstanding educator.

Lastly, a high quality teacher could not begin to teach without vast competence in her subject matter. For example, if students are reading a novel in an English class, it is essential for the teacher to know that book inside and out. The teacher should not only know the novel’s contents, but should know background information about the author, the time period, and other areas that strengthen the understanding of concepts, characters, and themes. This way, the teacher can answer the students’ questions and do so passionately. The students will be intrigued by her knowledge and depth of information and push further in their classroom study and become a well-rounded student. A superior educator knows her content well and knows how to best convey the content to her students.

All of these aforementioned qualities belong to an outstanding educator, perhaps that winner of the teacher of the year award. Imagine a classroom where the teacher could not answer any questions about the class content. Picture this same classroom, where that same teacher did not care to provide students with extra help or the tools necessary for them to succeed. Imagine how these students would feel. How would this classroom look? Could this class be successful in learning? Now imagine how that classroom would look if a new teacher stepped in creating a classroom where no questions were left unanswered, the students received endless support to succeed and were constantly engaged in daily lessons. This classroom holds a teacher who possesses the knowledge and skills to engage every student in her lessons, who knows how to help all students achieve high goals, and who displays a high competency in curriculum and standards. These qualities make an outstanding educator; an educator who knows how to create an outstanding learning experience for students to carry with them throughout their lives.