A teacher's greatness rests on the many intangible assets he or she develops. A teacher who internalises these qualities is remembered by the pupils with admiration and respect.

A long line of teachers pass through anyone's school and college life. Try recalling the names of the teachers who we admire. Only a few come to the mind. Those are fine teachers who stand out from the crowd.

Great teachers have certain traits and attributes that leave gratitude and endearing memories in their students. They have many essential virtues a teacher requires. What are those virtues? Which aspects should a teacher pay attention to for becoming effective and useful to the pupils?

Avoid mannerisms

Mannerisms of teachers often distract pupils from listening. They are irritants. The person who displays them cannot identify them. Get help from a sympathetic colleague to point out your mannerisms and then make an effort to eliminate them.

Perhaps, you may continue to show the mannerisms even after you start trying to avoid them. After all, you are trying to change a habit. It may take some time. Mannerisms may be in the form of words or acts.

Some of the common mannerisms are the following:

Frequent repetition of expressions such as “Er,” “Hmm,” “You follow,” “Is it not?,” “Well,” “Right?,” “OK?,” “Basically,” “You know,” ”You see,” and “I think.”

Tapping on the table with a chalk piece.

Tinkling keys or coins.


Throwing chalk pieces a few inches high and catching them.

Clinging to desk or chair.

Walking rhythmically with hands immersed in trouser pockets.

Pulling earlobes, nose, shirt collar, “sari pallu,” “dupatta” or watch chain.

Twisting shirt buttons.

Setting fallen hair on the forehead.


Waving around a long pointer like a music conductor's baton.

Qualities required

A teacher is likely to feel that he or she is the best and employing the best teaching methods. There is not just one right way to teach. There are time-tested proven styles. Any good teacher should constantly update his knowledge of teaching methods and practise them. A teacher should always grow. Each class should be taken as a new challenge and not a dull repeat.

A good teacher should constantly strive to meet the new expectations of the pupils and be their guide. It is not sufficient if you focus on the bright pupils. Encourage underachievers and bring them to the mainstream. Analyse their problems and offer solutions.

Discuss the scope of the syllabus in the beginning of the year. Discuss all the good textbooks in your subject, and mention their plus and minus points. In the modern era, it is advisable to indicate the best web sites for each segment of the syllabus in the higher classes. Always give more than what the textbook offers. The best teachers are the best learners.

Teachers in higher classes may give a course calendar or schedule in the beginning of the academic year. The schedule may indicate the sequence of topics, possible references, the table of assignments and dates of class tests. This will help the students study themselves and go in for systematic advance preparation.

Plan and organise your class in advance. Do not be satisfied with the traditional lesson plan, but see what more you can offer in the classroom. Be organised. Constantly strive for excellence.

Help students in developing life skills. Never criticise other teachers in the classroom.

Ingredients for success

Be fair (In your student days, you may have felt that a teacher was unfair to some pupils. Do not give room for the same feeling about your behaviour)

Be consistent (Students should know what to expect from you)

Be flexible (Being consistent does not mean that you should be an iron straightjacket. There may have to be flexibility to meet certain situations.)

Keep a positive mental attitude (This will lead you to improved satisfaction, better self-esteem, improved personal interactions and greater achievements.)

Keep high expectations on your and students' performance

Develop a sense of humour

Dress moderately, so that the teacher's dress does not distract pupils. Avoid gaudy clothes, pungent perfume and heavy jewellery. Use pleasing gestures and facial expressions.

Shed biases (Do not have set opinions such as certain students cannot improve; certain lessons are difficult; if you allow reverse questions, classroom discipline will be in disarray; my teaching methods are faultless; and if the pupils do not follow the lessons, it is their fault, and not mine)


The different roles of a teacher are as follows:

Knowledge specialist




Surrogate parent (Go prepared for parent-teacher meetings)

Record keeper

Technology expert

In assessment and evaluation, a teacher should be faithful and impartial and should follow the policies of the school or college. Do not just value assignment sheets and internal exam papers, but correct them. Plan your assignments properly, so that they complement classroom work.

In large classes, a teacher should know students by their names and make eye contact. Don't think you are facing a crowd. Be well prepared, including main questions to be asked. Make the lessons interesting. Use “we,” and “our,” not “I” or “my.” Spell out routines. Move around the students; do not stick yourself to a platform. Employ effective questioning techniques

A good teacher should have the following qualities:

Know the subject and develop excellent communication skills.

State lesson objective in the beginning of the class.

Give lesson summary at the end of the class.

Be a dynamic model of contagious enthusiasm.

Link the lesson with the pupils' experience in life, and kindle their interest.

Prepare well before each class.

Take each class as a healthy challenge.

Be seen and heard well.

Speak with conviction.

Use appropriate teaching aids.

Ensure interaction of pupils, and not keep them as passive listeners.

Avoid mannerisms.

Give graded assignments to pupils.

Get feedback from the pupils and make corrections, if necessary.

Maintain punctuality and discipline through his own example.

Maintain a sound teacher-pupil relationship.

Enlighten pupils on effective learning strategies, including memory techniques and the value of concentration.

Be a good showman.

Be innovative.

Be constantly look for new and effective teaching styles.

Develop inner urge for information, thirst for knowledge, and joy of learning in pupils.

Convince pupils that examinations are not to be feared, but to be enjoyed.

Encourage creativity in pupils.

Inspire pupils.

Be a lifelong student.


Novel ways to ensure student involvementSeptember 21, 2010