What makes a great teacher? Part 1

In the first part of a bumper two-part post, we look at some of the things that a great teacher does, and courses you can take to develop your teaching skills.

A great teacher…makes every subject interesting

What makes a great teacher futurelearn 1

Keeping students involved and excited in what they’re learning can be difficult if the subject is complex or takes a student out of their comfort zone. Great teachers can turn even the most tricky subjects into engaging lessons that keep students motivated.

Transform PE lessons
Join the course Outstanding Physical Education Lessons

Help students fall in love with languages
 Join the course Understanding Language: Learning and Teaching

Make learning English easy
 Join the flexible program of courses Teaching for Success: Practices for English Language Teaching

A great teacher…uses creativity

What makes a great teacher futurelearn 2

The same old routines day in and day out can make school stale quickly. A great teacher can get creative with lessons to capture attention and help students rekindle their interest.

Learn how transform lessons
Join the course Filmmaking and Animation in the Classroom

Or you could try blended learning or explore topics like royal food, Hong Kong, Richard III or robots with your students.

A great teacher…gives everyone the chance to learn

What makes a great teacher futurelearn 3

Ensuring all young people have the chance to get an education is one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2017. A great teacher works to ensure every person in their class has the chance to learn and creates an inclusive environment so no one misses out.

Learn how to help students with disabilities
Join the course Education for All

Learn how to help students with dyslexia
Join the course Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching

Learn how to help students with autism
Join the course Understanding Autism

A great teacher…knows how to manage behaviour

What makes a great teacher futurelearn 4

One disruptive student can stop a whole class learning. Great teachers know how to effectively use discipline to keep the classroom under control while still giving students freedom to learn.

Master classroom discipline
Join the course Managing Behaviour for Learning

A great teacher…is also a student

What makes a great teacher futurelearn 5

Keeping up your own learning whilst teaching is a challenge. That’s why FutureLearn courses are made up of bite-sized chunks of learning, so you can fit them around your timetable. Whether you want to develop a new skill or brush up on an old one, we might have something to help.

Improve your English
Join the course Teaching Your Subject in English

Learn about developing rigorous assessments
Join the course Designing Assessments to Measure Student Outcomes

Learn more about pursuing professional development
Join the course Becoming a Better Teacher: Exploring Professional Development

Not found a course for you? See all our teaching courses.

What do you think makes a good teacher? Let us know in the comments!

Category Teaching

Comments (114)


  • Lhei

    A great teacher is flexible, open-minded and see great possibilities in her/his students to success.

  • Geraldine

    A great teacher teaches not only through the intellect but also through the heart. I think this should not be forgotten by teachers because values should always be inculcated in every learning aspect/s.

    • Teresa Wang

      That’s very true.

    • Teresa Wang

      Values can affect a student a lifetime.

    • Nguyễn Thị Phương Lan

      Can’t agree more. Teachers not only convey the knowledge of the subject but also educate the learners with the deep morals inside the lesson. Therefore, when teaching someone, we teach them how to grow up as well x

  • mgm

    A great teacher is also academic father, by counseling and giving his students fatherly advise.

  • MGM

    A great teacher always gives support (eg financially) to his students and never taking anything from them (Money).

    • Teresa Wang

      It is not very common that a teacher offer financial support to students, but it exists. My high school mandarin teacher send money to one of my classmate monthly when she went to university. She has talent in Chinese but her family was very poor at that time. Anyway, she refused to accept the financial support many times. Finally my teacher understood what she need more is independence and dignity. My teacher cares everyone in our class, no matter he or she is from a rich or poor background, like or dislike the course, has or has not talent in the course.
      He is a great person and a great teacher.

      • MGM

        Exactly this is not common, but to maintain the dignity don’t take anything them, that’s will make you a great teacher. Thanks Teresa Wang

        • Teresa Wang

          I totally can’t agree with you, MGM.
          Maybe my above comments are not very clear. What I want to say is that my teacher is a great teacher, because he knew my classmate had no income and the expenses was unaffordable for her family at that time. She respect the teacher very much, that might be one of the reason she didn’t want to accept any financial aid from people she knews.
          I myself has financial problems too. I have the same feeling with her. I understood her feeling. I never thought money is not important, but money has not, is not, will not be that important.
          A great teacher can always motivate you to go further.

          • MGM

            I’m not opposing you, what i tried to say is that, only few teachers can help you financially, but even if you can’t help financially, dont collect/or take anything from your students, because doing so will turnish the image of teacher. A great teacher always help his students, never expect something in return. Then about the story of your teacher he is great and amazing teacher. thanks

          • Teresa Wang

            I think the best rewards to a teacher is the job itself. Some people have ability and willing, they do not have opportunity; some people want to be a teacher, they do not have certificate or enough qualification.
            Sharing is a great experience. Some people enjoy sharing, some people enjoy learning, some people enjoy both while some people enjoy neither.
            For the things about my teacher I mentioned in above comments, it is not a story, it is truth.

          • Teresa Wang

            I agree on this: Great teachers always help their students, never expect anything in return. If they have some expects, they hope their students be a better he or she.

  • Bijaya

    A great teacher always think positive towards students. He tries to know the names of all his students.

    • Teresa Wang

      One of my teacher remember most of his students’ name after we have graduated from high school for more than 20 years.
      But my teacher does not just keeps our name in mind, he knows every student well, knows what we like and dislike, our merits and shortages, he cares about our progress on almost all aspects of our life.

      • Teresa Wang

        I once saw a post on Quora, a professor in the US reply almost all his students’ mails/questions, he has more than 500(maybe it’s not a very accurate figure but I remember it’s a large amount) students at that time. He answers a lot of questions in various field almost everyday. Most his answer are clear and inspiring. Even though I have never been to the US, but I think he has a wider class in the internet.
        I didn’t saw his post for a long time. I have no idea what happened to my phone and the world.

        • Teresa Wang

          The professor I mentioned above reply all his students’ mail and questions when he was teaching in the university. (I got above info from the professor’s previous post.)

          I don’t think it’s necessary to remember the readers’ name on a social media or platforms like Quora. People communicate by sharing knowledge and ideals, not name.

  • Chidinma

    A great teacher is sociable and one who makes the students feel relevant.

  • Samiullah

    A great teacher is fully attached with what he/she teaches to others

    • Teresa Wang

      Yes. A good teacher should be a real expert on and really involved in what he or she teaches.

      • Teresa Wang

        And a great teacher must have deep confidence on what he or she teaches. What he or she is teaching is/will make the world better.

  • Samiullah

    A great teacher is always a good listener, good learner and always open for comments and ideas

    • Teresa Wang

      That’s very true!
      A great teacher is always curious about learning new things and sharing with students and others.
      A great teacher is always humble and welcoming critical opinions.

    • Teresa Wang

      Your comments is really brief and clear.

  • Marisol Bojórquez

    A great teacher is the one who learns from his or her students.

  • Marisol Bojórquez

    A great teacher inspires their students to better than he or she is.

    • Teresa Wang

      Good education/training, organizations and relationships…, etc help people to be/ try to be a better he or she.

  • rajeswari

    a great teacher looks for the sparkle in the eyes of the learner who is thriving in the learning and strives for such returns.

  • Jasmine Patra

    A great teacher is one who has passion for his/her subject. He/she is deeply involved while teaching, but with an eye observing the students’ attitudes inside the classroom with the lesson going on. A great teacher inspires and motivates the students to learn by trying and trying again non- stop. He/ she is forever a student with an unquenchable inquisitiveness for knowledge. A great teacher is adept in his/ her subject matter but tries to pose ignorant sometimes with the students in order to elicit answers from them. A great teacher does not hesitate to say ‘I don’t know’ and ‘Sorry’ if necessary to the students as he/she knows that Nobody is perfect and he/ she tries to learn from the students too with a genuine interest. A great teacher makes the students ready to face the journey of life and accept its challenges and problems with a positive attitude! A great teacher, above all these, installs humanity with all the humane qualities in the students, especially the art of being humble and becoming humbler with the increase in his/ her intellect and knowledge.
    A great teacher makes wise human beings.
    A great teacher is able to change lives to the positive by being a role model!

  • Noe

    A great teacher prepares his students to a LIFE journey.

    • Teresa Wang

      Like a gardener, a light.
      The word ‘great’ put in front of a job title makes the work a holy work. I think every position has its meaning when it was created, but a great teacher can affect a student’s whole life. A great teacher is always like a bright and warm light.

  • Sylvester soopu

    Definitely right. These attributes make one a great teacher. We can only add to them. In my opinion he must be well informed for the level s/he is facilitating learning at( content mastery). This in turn gives him confidence and wins the same from his/her learners. Above all s/he must be approachable to the learners. The later makes learners ready and eager to learn even outside the classroom setup.

  • Tanmay Awasthi

    A great teacher loves her students and accepts them as they are.

  • Rose

    I do believe that making any subject interesting and motivating his students is part of a good teacher.

  • purna roy bhowmik

    Leave a comment…teacher have to build up firstly students curiosity,helping students as their needs,a great teacher wll be good motivator too.

  • Blanca

    A great teacher shows passion, dedication, is sensitive and makes the connection with her students She is the best listener of the students’ needs.