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Qualities of Distinguished Teachers

What do think are qualities of distinguished teachers? Below, in alphabetical order, are 28 teacher qualities, and the behaviors that define them. They are derived from surveys of students and faculty at community colleges and universities. Do you have faculty who are strong in several of these areas? Have these behaviors helped you learn? Consider nominating your instructors for the Distinguished Teaching Award.

(Source: Keeley, J., Smith, D., & Buskist, W. (2006). The Teacher Behaviors Checklist: Factor analysis of its utility for evaluating teaching. Teaching of Psychology, 33, 84-91.)

1. Accessible (Posts office hours, gives out phone number and  e-mail information)

2. Approachable/Personable (Smiles, greets students, initiates conversations, invites questions, responds respectfully to student comments)

3. Authoritative (Establishes clear course rules; maintains classroom order; speaks in a loud, strong voice)

4. Confident (Speaks clearly, makes eye contact, and answers questions correctly)

5. Creative and Interesting (Experiments with teaching methods; uses technological devices to support and enhance lectures; uses interesting, relevant, and personal examples; not monotone)

6. Effective Communicator (Speaks clearly/loudly; uses precise English; gives clear, compelling examples)

7. Encourages and Cares for Students (Provides praise for good student work, helps students who need it, offers bonus points and extra credit, and knows student names)

8. Enthusiastic About Teaching and About Topic (Smiles during class, prepares interesting class activities, uses gestures and expressions of emotion

9. Establishes Daily and Academic Term Goals (Prepares/follows the syllabus and has goals for each class)

10. Flexible/Open-Minded (Changes calendar of course events when necessary, will meet at hours outside of office hours, pays attention to students when they state their opinions, accepts criticism from others, and allows students to do make-up work when appropriate)

11.  Good Listener (Doesn’t interrupt students while they are talking, maintains eye contact, and asks questions about points that students are making)

12. Happy/Positive Attitude/Humorous (Tells jokes and funny stories, laughs with students)

13. Humble (Admits mistakes, never brags, and doesn’t take credit for others’ successes)

14. Knowledgeable About Subject Matter (Easily answers students’ questions, does not read straight from the book or notes, and uses clear and understandable examples)

15. Prepared (Brings necessary materials to class, is never late for class, and provides outlines of class discussion)

16. Presents Current Information (Relates topic to current, real-life situations; uses recent videos, magazines, and newspapers to demonstrate points; talks about current topics; and uses new or recent texts)

17. Professional (Dresses nicely [neat and clean shoes, slacks, blouses, dresses, shirts, ties] and no profanity)

18. Promotes Class Discussion (Asks controversial or challenging questions during class, gives points for class participation, and involves students in group activities during class)

19. Promotes Critical Thinking/Intellectually Stimulating (Asks thoughtful questions during class, uses essay questions on tests and quizzes, assigns

20. Provides Constructive Feedback (Writes comments on returned work, answers students’ questions, and gives advice on test-taking)

21. Punctuality/Manages Class Time (Arrives to class on time/early, dismisses class on time, presents relevant materials in class, leaves time for questions, keeps appointments, and returns work in a timely way)

22. Rapport (Makes class laugh through jokes and funny stories, initiates and maintains class discussions, knows student names, and interacts with students before and after class)

23. Realistic Expectations of Students/Fair Testing and Grading (Covers material to be tested during class, writes relevant test questions, does not overload students with reading, teaches at an appropriate level for the majority of students in the course, and curves grades when appropriate)

24. Respectful (Does not humiliate or embarrass students in class, is polite to students [says thank you and please, etc.], does not interrupt students while they are talking, and does not talk down to students)

25. Sensitive and Persistent (Makes sure students understand material before moving to new material, holds extra study sessions, repeats information when necessary, and asks questions to check student understanding)

26. Strives to Be a Better Teacher (Requests feedback on his/her teaching ability from students, continues learning [attends workshops, etc. on teaching], and uses new teaching methods)

27. Technologically Competent (Knows how to use a computer, knows how to use e-mail with students, knows how to use overheads during class, and has a Web page for classes)

28. Understanding (Accepts legitimate excuses for missing class or coursework, is available before/after class to answer questions, doesn’t lose temper at students, and takes extra time to discuss difficult concepts)