We are surrounded by great teachers every day. But what makes a teacher exceptional?! We polled our colleagues from the Fearless group and they shared with us 30 traits of exceptional teachers. How many of these traits do you have?
A Great Teacher includes themes in their instruction to make learning fun for students.
An Exceptional Teacher creates thematic units, where all subjects are integrated and combined to allow for better connections when learning.
“I look at the big picture of what needs to be learned in each subject area and then try to find common themes. When you are able to integrate the same vocabulary and concepts across content areas, students are better able to make connections and think on a deeper level.” ~ Janessa F.
“Themes make my teaching so much easier. I am able to teach deeper concepts and not be stuck to “the time clock” with each subject. Subjects are able to flow into each other while still teaching the same concepts.” ~ Caitlin G.
“Being an exceptional teacher takes experience, intentional growth, and heart. You’ve got to be willing to step out of your comfort zone, and give it everything you’ve got no matter how many years you’ve been teaching.” -Emily G.
A Great Teacher has copies made and lesson plans ready at the beginning of the week.
An Exceptional Teacher has materials prepared, but takes cues from their students and adjusts lesson plans and sequence based on those needs.
“Knows each child’s strengths and areas that need growth….has high expectations for all kids.” ~ Caroline B-S.
“Relatable and one who can connect with the students. One who can find ways to teach outside of the box. Doesn’t mind being silly and fun.” ~ Danica R-K.
“They listen and know that every child is unique and teaching in a cookie cutter way will not work for all.” ~ Karen C.
A Great Teacher knows their curriculum and follows the correct scope and sequence.
An Exceptional Teacher flawlessly embeds supplemental materials to enhance the learning experience of their students.
“An exceptional teacher will use every tool, strategy, and curriculum in their repertoire-even if it is not provided by their school-because she knows that students learn in different ways.” ~ Lora M.
“Compassion and knowledge of curriculum.” ~ Amaris S.
“I am always in search of supplemental hands-on materials to support my curriculum. I love adding mentor texts from a variety of authors, centers for literacy and math, and hands-on discovery stations in science.” ~ Janessa F.
“Creative and can differentiate just to name 2 of many more traits!” ~ Michelle V-E.
“Intentional and purposeful in word and action.” ~ Denise O-B.
A Great Teacher understands that there may be interruptions during the day and adjusts accordingly.
An Exceptional Teacher has other learning opportunities prepared and ready for those days where unannounced interruptions occur.
“Flexible and easily adaptable.” ~ Lynsey B.
“Flexible, humble, empathetic, has to love what they do…or the kids will feel it!!” ~ Gina V-R.
“I live for ‘teachable moments’. Interruptions allow for opportunities to teach outside of the box and not from the curriculum guides.” ~ Jennifer H.
“Sometimes the best learning opportunities come from the lessons that aren’t on the plans.” ~ Jenn S.
A Great Teacher creates relationships with their students and their families.
An Exceptional Teacher creates those relationships and goes the extra mile to understand the culture of the students within their classroom. Those cultures are evident in classroom decor, literature, and curriculum.
“By caring the extra mile, remembering that the kids are much more than a student in your class. Meet the other facets of who they are. Partner up with families from the start.” ~ Shirley F-T.
“We have the power to transform a child: Helping them realize how loved, valued & important they are. When they feel this love, they can change the world!” ~ Alyssa Q.
“Believing in your students and bringing out their strengths while supporting and strengthening their deficits. Appreciate what they bring to the table without expectations of perfection. Being flexible and to continue to be a learner. A great quality is collaboration without bringing your ego. They are “our” kids, we have the same end goal for all of them, success 💕. ~ Gina V-R.
“The relationships that you build with your students and passion that you have to learn and grow as an educator.” ~ Donna B-A.
“An exceptional teacher builds relationships with her students and families beyond the walls of the classroom. When families and students feel safe and welcomed, children will want to learn and you will see so much success.” ~ Lana B-P.
“Empathy. Teachers need to understand their students, their families, and what’s going on in their lives. Not to judge them, but to understand them, and figure out how to best meet their needs. Toss in a good dose of enthusiasm, optimism, and the belief that all children are capable of reaching their potential and beyond.” ~ Karen K.
“Genuine communication with parents, relationships with students where you know more than just their best friends name, teaching with passion and uniqueness.” ~ Araceli V.
A Great Teacher creates a classroom community where students are respected and valued.
An Exceptional Teacher includes their students in the community building process. They ask for input on rules and procedures, spend time outside of the classroom with students (during lunch/recess), and allow students to facilitate learning.
“Be a facilitator, not the Queen of the Classroom.” ~ Kelly M-W.
“Being consistent, loving, and always make sure your students know you believe in them. ❤” ~ Jodi D.
“I believe building relationships with your students is first and foremost! Get to know them…who they are, what they like, where they come from, who supports them, what inspires them, scares them, etc.” ~ Tina O-M.
“Honestly. One word…relationships!” ~ Erin O-D.
“Build relationships with your students & families! I have been teaching for 40 years & the passion is STILL there!😊. Celebrate the steps taken by your kids, both big & little-a step forward is great!” ~ Noleen C.
“Relationships matter. Kids will not learn from someone they don’t trust and respect. That doesn’t mean you let them rule the class. It means you set clear boundaries, follow through and work with them as a team to help them reach goals.” ~ April T.
“Empathy, truly understanding children and their behavior/choices. Genuine, wanting to help them succeed and see them flourish. Positive, not only with the students but coworkers as well.” ~ Karrigan F.
A Great Teacher attends staff development and tries new techniques learned.
An Exceptional Teacher self-reflects on their instruction, adjusting lesson plans daily to meet the needs of their students, while using best practices learned during trainings.
“Willingness to change and to continue learning.” ~ Ana T.
“Make sure you make time for yourself. If you aren’t 100%, you can’t give your kids your all. Also don’t be afraid to fail. Your first year of teaching is going to happen, give yourself grace and don’t be afraid to try something new. You will always learn from your mistakes.” ~ Caroline M.
“One who is willing to self-reflect, learn, and grow.” ~ Brittni R.
“Someone who is willing to learn, to change, and to try new things. Someone who knows that just because “we’ve always done it this way” doesn’t mean we have to continue doing it that way. Also someone who is a team player and is there for the benefit of all kids, not just those kids in his/her classroom.” ~ Jennifer H.
“An exceptional teacher sees growth and change as a super power.” ~ Annde M.
“The love and passion a teacher has about what they are doing every single day! You have to love what you’re doing and know that even though it might not always feel like it, you are making a difference in all of your students lives!” ~ Mercedes A.
“Reflection, reflection, reflection!! If you end every day thinking about what worked and what didn’t work, how you could do better or adjust something you did to meet the needs of you students, if you’re always striving to try or learn something new… that makes you a great teacher. That goes for your instruction, your interactions with children and families, working with colleagues, everything. Self-awareness and self-reflection makes exceptional teachers.” ~ Christine M.
“Self reflection on your lessons and student data.” ~ Christina Z.
“A lifelong learner, good classroom management and someone who makes learning fun.” ~ Kimberly H.
Exceptional Teachers accomplish incredible goals with little to no resources.
Thank you to all of the exceptional teachers out there who are making a difference in the lives of our children. You come to work every day ready to accomplish amazing things. We would love to hear your words of wisdom and great ideas. Please share in the comments below. We learn the most from our peers, and want to hear all of the exceptional things you are doing in your classrooms!
-Written by Janessa Fletcher
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