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To Be A Good Teacher You Must Be A Good Student


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A good teacher is a teacher who feels committed to the success of his/her students. This teacher puts the relationship between the teacher and the students first and foremost in terms of giving the students what they need in order to succeed. (Fayose, 2003).

However, there are going to be many challenges that teachers must face. They will be given fewer materials than they need to have. They will be given far less support than they need in order to function effectively. They will be expected to be everything and anything that their students need them to be. They will be paid as little as possible for being and doing those things. They will be told that they cannot ever be and do enough for their students. They will be told that any student’s failure is a direct result of the teacher’s failure to be and do what no one else in the students’ life is being or doing for the students. Yet, good teachers will continue to do their best for their students.

Good teachers know their subject matter and are eager to share what they know as well as to discover what students are learning about it. If the teacher is uncertain or insecure in the subject matter, he/she will avoid certain aspects of that subject matter and this will put the students at a disadvantage in the subject.

Good teachers think of questions as being a sign of interest in the subject as long as the question is not intended to waylay the progress of the class. One quick way to discover the nature of the question is to ask the student to explain where he/she became lost and then the teacher can focus on what the student needs to know. For example, if the student says he does not understand how an equation was approached, the teacher can ask the student to describe the last step he took in the process. This puts some pressure on the student to be honest about his knowledge base. The teacher can then turn the question over to the class as a whole and ask it to provide an explanation of the next appropriate step. If the class cannot do this, they class needs instruction. Stop and give it to them. If the class can answer the question to the student’s satisfaction and show the appropriate process, the problem is solved.

Good teachers do not resent their students for not knowing the things that they were expected to learn in the past. It does no good to remind tenth graders that they were supposed to have learned this in the ninth grade. Turn the question over to the class and, if no one knows the answer, it is time to teach an important lesson.

Good teachers believe that their students can learn. To believe otherwise is to give up on them and accept their failure as inevitable.

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Good teachers know when to not take a student’s problem behaviors personally. Many students have learned how to avoid having to learn things by behaving in ways that distract the teacher from teaching them anything. It helps to delve into the student’s past to find out where she has been and what she has done in school, talk to counselors, and talk with the student to find out what is getting in the way of the learning. Otherwise, a student who would rather look tough than unknowing is going to use toughness as a buffer against learning.

One of the characteristics that we can observe is consistency. The teacher is the same way with the students regardless of who else is watching or listening to the class session. The teacher who adjusts his/her behavior because someone else is around to impress is going to be more concerned about how he/she looks to the observer than how he/she helps the students.

Good teachers know when to step back and not protect students from the consequences of their own choices. This is very difficult to do, but there are times when students need to know that they have crossed a line by choice and that the teacher cannot or will not protect them from the consequences of their actions. The teacher will know when this is happening.

Good teachers have to be innovative and eclectic in their approaches to teaching. There is no one magic way to impart information in a manner that works for everyone, every time. Good teachers find another way to explain things rather than simply repeating what they said before.

Good teachers recognize that they can make mistakes and can be wrong too. When this happens, they own up to the mistakes and model the behavior of learning from the mistakes rather than defending them.

Good teachers know their subject, know their students, and know the ways to reach them. They do not give up even when the students are ready to give up. They see tomorrow as a new day and a new opportunity to make a difference. They come back to school with a plan to teach and a will to make the plan the best that it can be. They learn from what works and what does not work. They adjust their plans and their approaches accordingly. They challenge the fact that the students do not know something by realizing that they may not know it yet, but they will learn it because that is what they are there to do.

Good teachers let students know that they are proud of what the students have accomplished. They reward sincere effort as they encourage growth. It is better to teach a child to walk by getting down on the floor in front of the child and offering encouragement than it is to stand behind the child and tell it what to do next.


Good students emulate teachers in different ways from personal appearance to organisational skills and preparedness for each day besides exemplary communication skills. The respect that the great teacher receives because of her professional manner is obvious to those around her. Role modelling is a creative way of teaching.

While teaching is a gift that seems to come quite naturally to some, others have to work overtime to achieve the great-teacher status.

According to Edet, (2014) in the role of teacher education and Nigerian teachers in National Development stated that; a for student to become a good teacher, he/she must possess the following qualities:

  1. A positive attitude towards study

Students must demonstrate that they are ready to work hard – that they’re not just applying to university for the social life, but that they will be able to cope with the workloads of their chosen course and thrive at a higher level of education.

As well as good grades, students can demonstrate this in their personal statements by mentioning their extended essay or personal projects they have taken on to expand their knowledge or study skills. Linking this to their intended area of university study is helpful. Showing the ability to manage your time and workload is important, too. 

  1. A passion for the chosen course subject

Students must demonstrate a passion for their chosen subject. Independent extended interest in a subject that goes above and beyond what is required in the classroom, a personal achievement and extracurricular activities can all help to illustrate this. It’s beneficial for students to show how learning within and beyond the classroom links to their chosen course.

Ultimately, passion and perseverance are qualities that are also highly sought after by employers, not just universities.

  1. An ability to think and work independently

According to this year’s survey, almost half of admission officers in the UK feel students aren’t ready to step up to higher education.

Why would they think that? Well 89 per cent of respondents cite students’ inability to think and learn independently; while three-quarters believe students lack social skills and, even more worryingly, common sense. So it is important to show that you are a well-rounded person outside of your studies. 

  1. An ability to persevere and complete tasks

Students need to show commitment and determination – 91 per cent of university admissions officers look for evidence of these qualities in applications.

Universities are looking for indications that students will complete their course and have an understanding of what it entails. If you are a member of a sports team, involved with any committees or school councils, or even have a part-time job, it’s worth mentioning this on your personal statement. All of these roles show a sense of commitment and an ability to take responsibility for tasks. You can also talk about any leadership experience you have gained or contributions that you have made.

You could also include any additional qualifications, such as music grades, or courses such as lifeguarding or first aid that you have taken.

  1. An inquiring mind

Almost all university admissions officers (91 per cent) look for evidence of an inquiring mind in student applications. 

Have you taken the initiative to read around your subject outside of the classroom? Researched more about a theory you touched on in class? Talk about this in your personal statement – it not only demonstrates a curious mind, but also a positive attitude to study, an interest in your course and an ability to think and work independently.

  1. Good written English

Make sure you check, check, and check again that every word and sentence of your personal statement is spelled correctly, makes sense and is grammatically correct. Ask as many people as you can to proof-read it and check that it makes sense – especially teachers who have experience in helping with university applications. Admissions officers will notice mistakes, which can suggest a lack of attention and care on your part.


Nnachi, (2006) in his study on Historical and psychological analysis of the trends in professionalization of teaching job in Nigeria highlighted the following qualities of a good teacher:


A good teacher is one who can connect with his or her students. A teacher who merely enters a classroom, stands there for an hour, reads aloud or dictates from a textbook, and leaves the classroom hurriedly when the school bell rings, is not really a very good teacher. A teacher should be able to strike the right chord with his or her students. He or she should be able to feel the pulse of the classroom and adjust or modify his or her teaching style or mode accordingly. Maintaining a high level interest among the students regarding the subject being taught is very important.


Communication is vital for anyone with a teaching job to succeed at his or her place of work. A teacher should be both, effective as well as efficient when it comes to communicating with his or her students. Lack of communication skills will only end up with students either not understanding the subject matter at all, or understanding it incorrectly (which is equally bad, if not worse). Remember, all good communicators may not be good teachers, but all good teachers are always good communicators.

Love for Teaching

This is by far, the biggest factor that differentiates between 10 average teachers and 1 great teacher. All great teachers are people who teach simply because they love doing so. It isn’t about the money, or the prestige, or about earning the respect of their students, or anything else. It is all about the love for teaching. It has always been that way, and it always will.


This is an important quality of a good teacher and unfortunately, a quality that one gets to see very rarely. A teacher with a I-know-it-all attitude will no doubt impart all his/her knowledge to the students, but rarely will he or she earn the respect or the affection of the students. On the contrary, a teacher who, when in doubt, doesn’t hesitate to admit his or her lack of expertise on the subject matter and is open to ‘reverse learning’, i.e., learning a thing or two from the students itself, will no doubt go down well with the students.

Listening Skills

A good teacher is always a great listener. He or she not only talks, but also keenly listens to all that his or her students have to say. If a certain topic or point is found to be debatable, a good teacher does not hesitate to throw open the topic to the whole class and invite individual opinions on the matter.

A teacher plays a crucial role in child development. In addition to the aforementioned points, here are a few more traits that make an influencing teacher.

  • A good teacher always motivates a student, no matter how tough the situation is, or how weak the student may be.
  • A good teacher is one who freely jokes around in the class, but is dead serious when the need arises.
  • A good teacher is one who, in a short span of time, can turn the dullest and the most disliked subject into your all-time favorite subject
  • A good teacher is one who is a leader, but also a friend.
  • Last but not the least, a good teacher is one who always remains a student from within.


To summarize, three things come to mind. First, you must first be a good student. I don’t necessarily mean that you have to be a straight “A” student, but you need to be inquisitive and determined to dig into the course of study you have chosen. Second, you must be disciplined. The preparation that goes into teaching isn’t easy. It takes time, effort and a lot of thought to develop meaningful lesson plans and methods of presentation. Third, you need to be patient. Students, particularly the younger ones, have a hard time staying on task and are easily distracted. If you can master these skills, you have the potential to become a good teacher.

Therefore, teaching is hard work, and great teachers work tirelessly to create a challenging and nurturing environment for their students. Great teaching seems to have less to do with our knowledge and skills than with our attitude towards our students or our subject. Greatness in teaching is just as rare as greatness in medicine, dance, law or any other profession. Although the qualities that make great teachers are not easy to inculcate or duplicate, understanding these qualities can give all teachers a standard of excellence to strive for and guide higher education institutions in their efforts to recruit and retain the best teachers.


Edet, A. O. (2014) The role of teacher education and Nigerian teachers in National Development: The way forward. Higher Education of Social Science 7(1) 139-143.

Fayose, P. O. E. (2003) Children, teachers and librarian: Developing information conscious children. Inaugural lecture delivered at University of Ibadan.

Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 2013) National policy on Education. Lagos: NERDC press.

Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 2004) National policy on education. Lagos: NREDC press.

Makoju, G.A.E (2005) Nigeria education Sector: Diagnosis, a framework for re-reengineering the education sector. Analysis Unit Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja, Nigeria Pp. 165-186.

Nnachi, R. O. (2006) Historical and psychological analysis of the trends in professionalization of teaching job in Nigeria. A paper presented to the curriculum conference organization of Nigeria at Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago/Woye Ogun state.


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