20 Essential Skills and Qualities Every Teacher Needs

Female student in classroom with teacher

Teachers have the ability to change lives and develop well-educated and respectable students; they can help with not only knowledge growth but personal improvement, too. It’s an incredibly rewarding career path and the long holidays are a huge plus!

Good educators are high in demand, but to be an effective teacher, you need to have a diverse set of professional skills to complete the package.

Without further ado, here is a list of the top 20 skills needed to be a successful primary or secondary school teacher.



1. Enthusiasm

A great teacher is enthusiastic about their job and lesson, and encourages students to share the same passion as they do. Think back to your favourite teacher at school – was this person always upbeat and entertaining? You need to possess that same excitement for your class!

2. Leadership

An effective teacher has the ability to lead and guide her classroom; she can manage a number of different personalities, including misbehaving children, and steer them into the right direction. She leads by example and is an important role model in her students’ lives.

3. Organisation

Teachers have to juggle a number of tasks, from lesson planning to activities and marking. In order to succeed in their role, they are required to have exceptional organisation skills. They need to be able to keep on top of these tasks and complete their duties in a timely manner.

4. Respectful

A good teacher sets a respectful tone in her classroom. Students feel safe to share their values and opinions, and their classmates have learnt to be good listeners and respect others’ thoughts. Essentially, the educator has created a useful learning environment for her pupils.

5. Multitasking

Teaching is not only about following the curriculum and marking exams; it’s also about multitasking. A good teacher needs to have eyes on the back of her head and should be able to monitor all her pupils’ behaviour and keep their attention while completing her class. After the class, she’ll need to plan her following week, as well as create and mark tests and assignments.

6. Teamwork

Part of being a teacher is the ability to work as part of a team, as well as alone. They’ll need to make their students feel like they are part of a team to enhance the learning experience. Furthermore, they must network with fellow teachers to solve problems and create plans regarding the overall teaching scheme.

7. Ability to Teach

This is a given, but being a teacher is not just about the credentials you hold to educate others. You’ll need to have instructive skills, your own style of teaching and the ability to explain and demonstrate clearly so that concepts that are not easy to understand are simplified using memorable examples or props.

8. Communication

Teachers must have remarkable communication abilities. They must be able to interact with people of all ages, including colleagues, pupils, parents and managers. Educators should effectively deliver information, understand the different points of view from other people and explain the rationale for the choices they make in regards to their teaching.

9. Adaptability

Being adaptable to unforeseen situations is key; you never know what will happen in your classroom each day and you will need to handle each circumstance appropriately and come with quick solutions. For example, if one of your pupils is really sick or injures themselves, you’ll need to remain calm and come to the rescue.

10. Interpersonal Skills

Strong people skills can turn an average teacher into a successful one. An educator that is inclined towards helping others will create warm relationships that, in turn, boost learning. A pleasant teacher who has an engaging personality creates attentive and enthusiastic students. You will also be adept at handling students that may have learning difficulties or other disabilities that need special attention.


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11. Creativity

Teachers need creativity to keep students interested and engaged, especially children that are in primary school. You’ll need to find different ways to keep the class interested and attention levels high – this could be through roleplay or other fun learning activities.

12. Self-Evaluation

To develop professionally and provide quality education, you’ll constantly need to self-evaluate and reinvent yourself. You will have to push your pride aside and analyse where you have gone wrong and what can be improved within your classes.

13. Patience

Patience is key when working with children and teenagers; they won’t all be well-behaved and you’ll need to be understanding when kids start to act out. You will also need to be patient if a pupil doesn’t comprehend what you are saying – you must discover alternative ways to explain things.

14. Emotional Intelligence

If you’ve ever seen Matilda, think back to Miss Trunchbull and her erratic behaviour which made the young students fear for their lives. That’s neither beneficial for the pupils nor for yourself! However angry or upset you get, you need to have the ability to control your emotions and not let them get the better of you – otherwise, you too will turn into a complete wreck.

15. Empathy

If you are empathetic towards your students, they too will learn to handle their emotions and be compassionate towards each other. Proud to be Primary advises that building ‘healthy social-emotional skills in your students will benefit your class, as well as future classrooms. Classes cannot function well if classroom community standards aren’t discussed and encouraged’.

16. Critical Thinking

Teachers need to solve a number of different problems, often on a tight deadline. This frequently involves, answering difficult questions on the spot, solving conflicts, creating new lesson plans, teaching games and dealing with other personal issues between pupils or colleagues.

17. Confidence

You can’t be a teacher if you don’t have the confidence to stand at the front of the classroom and talk to your students. You have to be a strong character that can answer questions positively and instil the same self-assurance within your classroom.

18. Commitment

You can’t stroll into your classroom when you feel like it and take a personal day because you just can’t be bothered. If you want to be a good educator, you must be committed to your job and your classroom. You need to have the passion to teach and change your pupils’ lives for the better.

19. A Sense of Humour

This isn’t strictly a skill; you either have a sense of humour or you don’t – but having one is super useful if you want to engage with your students. You should be able to have a laugh with them and make the lesson as fun as possible – and students that are happy tend to be more open to learning!

20. Approachableness

Being approachable is a vital quality to have. Your students need to feel comfortable to ask you questions and to talk to you if they have an issue. They shouldn’t be afraid of failure or saying the wrong thing. Great teachers have warming characters that invite children to open up and get involved in the lesson.



Teaching comes quite naturally to some who are born leaders, yet others have to work hard to achieve ‘great teacher’ status. Whichever category you fall into, if you want to help young students and make a lasting impression, these top skills and qualities can place you at a great advantage.

Do you have any other modern teaching skills that aren’t mentioned above? If so, join in on the conversation below and share your thoughts…




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