7 2.1 What Do Great Teachers Do Differently?


Think about your favorite teacher – a teacher that you learned a great deal from, who helped you to develop your potential, or who made you feel at home in the classroom. What characteristics did this teacher have which allowed you to learn, be comfortable, or grow?

Think about your least favorite teacher – a teacher who you simply could not learn from, who interfered with your personal development, or who created a sense of unease in the classroom. What characteristics did this teacher demonstrate which shut down your learning, stunted your personal growth, or made you uncomfortable?

In a few short descriptive paragraphs, compare the characteristics of your favorite teacher with the characteristics of your least favorite teacher. Be prepared to share with others.

Guiding Questions

  1. How do great teachers act?
  2. What do great teachers do?
  3. How do great teachers present themselves professionally?
  4. How does a great teacher make you feel?
  5. What is special about a great teacher?

Self Reflection

  1. Does this describe the person I am?
  2. What would I need to do to be this person?
  3. Do I want to be this person?


Discussion Questions: Why Teach?

  • Why do people choose to teach?
  • Why are you choosing to teach?


As we examine the characteristics of good and bad teachers in our school experience, we will likely see correlations between the student-teacher relationship and our performance or lack of ease in the classroom. As we look at teaching through this lens, we understand that teaching content is only one and quite possibly the least important aspect of a teacher’s role. Creating an emotionally caring and educationally supportive environment in our classroom can give us an advantage in engaging students for learning.

Ms. Rita Pierson presents the following TED video. Ms. Pierson was an inspiring former teacher who has a philosophy that all students can learn and that a teacher can lift students to heights they never thought they could achieve. This presentation focuses on practical success and failure resulting from classroom relationships. Often pre-service teachers believe that they are preparing for a career that will require them to teach the content. However, as teachers, we cannot shy away from the fact that we also teach complex human beings.


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Introduction to Education by Shannon M. Delgado and Sarah Mark is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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