Published On: Sun, Nov 25th, 2018

What Great Teachers Know and Do

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Teaching can be one of the most rewarding, but also one of the most frustrating experiences. The rewards are most often felt when the teacher is successful with her students. But what are the tools for success? While many researchers explore “best practices” for teaching, they can be summarized into the three R’s – relationships, respect, and resources.

What Great Teachers Know and Do

Relationship Building

Successful teachers have quality relationships with their students, fellow staff, and administrators. These teachers work daily to build trust with their students by demonstrating care, concern, and high expectations. They also develop positive peer interactions by collaborating with other teachers, lending a helping hand when asked, and spending time away from the business of school to bond with their fellow staff.

They also know how to respond to administrative requests and support school-wide policies that directly benefit their students. They communicate clearly with supervisors and are punctual with forms needed for smooth functioning in the main office. They even work hard to build relationships with their students’ families by communicating the good, not just the bad, inviting parents into the school, and making parents feel welcome to the school campus.

Respecting the Art of Instruction

Successful teachers respect the fact that teaching is an art and not simply a science. They realize that perhaps their teacher training program was unable to fully prepare them for the task at hand. They learn from the masters in their building and constantly reflect on ways to improve their own practice.

They read about innovative practices and regularly seek out professional development opportunities to enhance their own performance. They know that having pedagogical knowledge is not enough, but that application of this knowledge in real-life daily classroom experiences builds their capacity to be effective.

Recourse for Resources

Finally, successful teachers know the importance of resources. They know that the typically provided school materials are insufficient. They know how to find supplemental resources in libraries, on the internet, in newspapers, in school supply warehouses, in other teachers’ rooms and minds, at video stores, on television, and almost anywhere. They are constantly alert to find resources that provide relevant connections for their students and support their facilitation of engaging learning experiences.

Some might argue that great teachers need only know the subject area in which they teach to be successful. For example, many cite teacher content area knowledge as the most important qualification for teaching. Also, proponents of alternative certification routes for teachers argue that longer and more traditional training programs are unnecessary and place barriers in front of people who simply need knowledge of the content they are to teach.

However, research from within the field of education has shown that high performing teachers know more than content area information and have the ability to be dynamic deliverers of instruction based on knowledge of pedagogy, experience with reflection on how they implement “best practices,” and what they do to supplement delivery of academic information.

Successful teachers are those who feel rewarded in the teaching profession because they build solid relationships with all around them. They continually build their capacity to be artful deliverers of school knowledge. They find and use resources to teach students and they share this with their peers. They compare ideas and practices with peers to develop a positive network of professional learning. They use these resources and experiences to test out methods with students and subsequently reflect on how to best merge theory with practice. They also use the relationship they have with their administrators to be accountable for their professional growth.

Teaching is a demanding profession, but also one that is critical for our nation. Teachers give students the skills and knowledge they need to participate in a democratic society including the capacity to think critically, generate informed opinions, understand multiple perspectives, as well as knowledge of general civic information and virtues. Teachers also play a vital role in facilitating education’s power to be the “great equalizer,” creating conditions for equal opportunity. Knowing what successful teachers do is vital for the important task of educating the promise of our future.

About the Author

- Paul Linus is an eminent online journalist who has been writing news, features and editorials on different websites from across the world for about a decade. He can be contacted at

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