Good Teachers, Revisited

Good Teachers, Revisited

Over the course of my practice, I have had the privilege of visiting many classrooms and meeting many excellent teachers. I want to take some time to explore the the special traits I have encountered that good teachers all have.

I started analyzing this subject in a blog we published in 2016 (here), and in continuing to explore this theme, here are 7 traits of good teachers.

  1. No down time: the pace of teaching is fast, and the schedule of activities intersperse passive with active activities. Non-preferred activities are relatively short and followed by preferred ones.
  2. Using audiovisual materials to teach, from arts & crafts to videos, keeping kids engaged.
  3. They involve students in the learning process. Good teachers do not give long (and often boring) speeches about the Missions in California because they know they will “lose” most of the students after 15 minutes. Instead, they engage student’s minds in active, participatory learning, having them draw maps, read and discuss the topic with peers, play games about the topic, or doing group story writing, presentations, or reenactments.
  4. Instead of raising their voice, a good teacher lowers their tone. And instead of scolding, good teachers talk about the fun activities that are coming up, including recess and lunch. In that way students, have to be quiet to hear what they say.
  5. Good teachers request silence by saying “I like how L, M, and N are quiet when I’m testing. I’d like everybody else to do the same,” rather than demanding students to be quiet.
  6. They ask the kids how they should behave and if they do not know the answer, they explain: rather than policing the good teachers teach, behaviors included.
  7. The good teachers motivate instead of forcing. Motivation can be implemented through rewards, praise, good grades and privileges. One teacher I observed recently reminded their students that when the office calls to ask for students for a special activity, he chooses based on behaviors. “You have to earn it,” he said.


Add to these traits patience, compassion and passion for teaching and the result is excellent education.

Daniel Adatto, BCBA


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