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I recently quoted from an article on The Guardian, “The best teachers instill a hunger to learn, and not just in their pupils.” Mike Boyle wrote to me saying that “As a facilitator and advisor for nearly 20 years I have run a small workshop on leadership role models and used one simple question: “Describe the best teacher you have ever had”.” He says that “without fail these comments always come up:

  1. Fun
  2. Hard but fair
  3. Engaging
  4. Insightful
  5. Passion
  6. A coach
  7. Listener
  8. Highest integrity
  9. Respected
  10. Trusted

He adds “the description is never any different and yet so many teachers fall short of this.”

Here’s a starter-for-eight on a list of traits shared by great teachers, as well as by articles on The Washington Post (Chris Lehmann) and The Telegraph (Barnaby Lenon):

  1. Passion – they love what they do, which is why they do it so well. It’s hard to teach. Doug Lemov might argue the latter.
  2. Dynamic – they’re constantly changing and adapting to their environment. They try new teaching methods and they’re flexible with different types of students.
  3. Curiosity – they have a constant drive for improvement – in their students, as well as themselves.
  4. Engaging – their work is driven by energy and enthusiasm. Each day they put on a show in front of an audience.
  5. Substance – they know the material they’re teaching inside and out. They understand how to make it interesting to learn.
  6. Discipline – they’re hard, but fair. ‘A velvet hand in an iron glove’ is a nice way to put it.
  7. Listen – they listen and they reflect. They have integrity.
  8. Work ethic – they have it and it just won’t quit.

Think back to some of the best teachers that you had – what made them so special?

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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