Behaviors of good teachers

Adapted from the American Association of Higher Education Bulletin, 1987

Good teachers know how to bring out the best in their students, but it’s not magic and it’s not just about popularity.  Here are some of the “tricks” good teachers use:

Encourage high expectations

  • Set challenging goals for learning.
  • Make expectations clear both orally and in writing.
  • Set consequences for non-completion of work.
  • Encourage students to write and speak well.
  • Discuss class progress.
  • Communicate importance of high academic standards.

Encourage cooperation among students

  • Ask students to explain difficult concepts to each other.
  • Inquire into students’ interests and backgrounds.
  • Encourage students to prepare together for class.
  • Allow students to critique each other’s work.
  • Create study groups and project teams.

Emphasize timeliness

  • Expect students to complete assignments promptly.
  • Estimate and communicate the amount of time to be spent on tasks.
  • Encourage rehearsal of oral presentations.
  • Encourage steady work and sensible time management.

Give prompt feedback

  • Provide sufficient opportunities for assessment.
  • Prepare classroom activities (for example, active learning exercises) that give immediate feedback.
  • Return graded assignments within one week.
  • Give detailed evaluations of work starting early in the term.
  • Give a pre-test at the beginning of the course to assess students’ background in the subject.

Encourage student-instructor contact

  • Adopt a demeanor that communicates that you are approachable.
  • Welcome students to drop by your office. Respect diverse talents and ways of learning.

Encourage student involvement

  • Use diverse teaching activities. Encourage active learning. Ask students to present work to the class.
  • Ask students to relate outside events to class material.
  • Give students real-life situations to analyze.
  • Use simulations and role-playing in class.
  • Encourage students to challenge course material.
  • Be sure to make clear that showing disrespect to you or other students is not appropriate.