The Key Traits of an Exceptional Teacher

As a seasoned educator, I have come to understand that being a great teacher goes beyond simply having knowledge of the subject matter. It requires a unique combination of traits and behaviors that allow you to connect with your students, understand their needs, and continuously improve your teaching methods. In this article, I will discuss the essential traits that define an exceptional teacher and provide practical ways to apply them in the classroom.

Strong Relationships

One of the key traits of an exceptional teacher is the ability to build strong relationships with their students. This involves being warm, approachable, and kind towards your students.

It also means maintaining frequent communication with parents to provide updates and address any concerns. Additionally, great teachers work collaboratively with administrators and other teachers to improve their own teaching skills and the overall school environment.


Teaching is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Every student is unique and has different learning needs. As such, adaptability is crucial for teachers.

This means being able to continuously evaluate what works for your students and what doesn't, and being flexible enough to adjust your teaching methods accordingly. Being adaptable also allows you to seamlessly transition between different learning theories and teaching styles without feeling overwhelmed by stress or indecision.


Empathy is the ability to understand and relate to what another person is feeling or experiencing. As a teacher, it is vital to practice empathy instead of making assumptions about your students. This involves striving to understand the root cause of any issues they may be facing, whether it's falling behind in class or acting out in class.

Active listening is also an important aspect of empathy, as it allows you to effectively diagnose your students' unique obstacles and challenges and help them overcome them.

Lifelong Learning

The best teachers are not only interested in teaching, but they also have a passion for lifelong learning. This is reflected in their enthusiasm and commitment as instructors. Continuous learning and professional development provide invaluable insight, keeping teachers "attentive" and reminding them of the real-world challenges their students may face. This also creates a path to greater empathy, as teachers gain a deeper understanding of different learning theories and how to apply them in the classroom.


Creativity is another essential trait for exceptional teachers.

It goes hand in hand with adaptability, as it allows you to think outside the box and find innovative solutions to challenges. Whether you're teaching young children or doctoral students, creativity is necessary to meet a wide range of student needs. It also helps foster creativity in your students, an essential skill for their future careers.

Interpersonal Skills

Being a teacher requires strong interpersonal skills. This includes time management, leadership, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, and the ability to employ various teaching modes and methods.

Teachers must also be patient and adaptable when working with students who have different backgrounds, abilities, and challenges.

Empathy in Action

Empathy is a crucial quality for teachers to possess. Children and young people often have intense emotions and face challenges outside of the classroom that we may not be aware of. As a teacher, it's important to empathize with your students' feelings, even if they may seem trivial. Validating their emotions helps them understand and process them, leading to emotional maturity.

Without empathy, teachers cannot effectively help students overcome difficulties, whether they are real or perceived.

Creating a Safe Environment

In order for students to learn and thrive, they must feel safe in the classroom. As a teacher, it's important to be sensitive and reflective, creating an environment where students feel understood and supported. This involves actively seeking feedback, encouraging honesty, and being attentive when listening to your students.

The Essential Traits of an Exceptional Teacher

After reviewing numerous studies and first-hand stories, we have identified six key behaviors that define an exceptional teacher. These include building strong relationships, being adaptable, practicing empathy, continuously learning, being creative, and possessing strong interpersonal skills.

By incorporating these traits into your teaching practice, you can create a positive and effective learning environment for your students.

Ervín Kirscht
Ervín Kirscht

Total tv geek. Subtly charming explorer. Freelance food scholar. Wannabe coffee scholar. Evil explorer.

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