Key Characteristics of Effective Educators


The relationship between Educator and student is so important, especially during the students formative years. To be able to engage students in the learning process effectively, the reality is that this relationship needs to be perceived of as strong, solid, and based on trust and respect. Effective Educators are those who have strong relationships with the students, and this is due to a myriad of characteristics, skills and talents that educators must embody with their students.

The following is a list of 17 Characteristics that an Effective Educator embodies:

  1. Expertise and skills within the curriculum areas they are planning, teaching, and assessing. These are all areas that can take years to perfect, and pre-service teacher education is just the beginning.
  2. Technological skills associated with the areas of expertise, and how to apply them to the curriculum and student needs. 21st Century Technology is so important to introduce and incorporate in our classrooms and curriculum. It is the way of the future, and students need to understand how to use it, plan with it, navigate, understand, and stay safe with 21st Century technologies!
  3. Enthusiasm and striving to increase a personal knowledge base, and practical skills through continuing education, training, supervision and consultation. This is especially true in this digital age where information technology has exploded and continues to change at rapid paces. The most effective educators stay abreast of new knowledge and updates!
  4. Demonstrates understanding and openness to the cultural influences within the classroom. Effective educators develop a keen understanding of how cultural backgrounds affect how knowledge will be interpreted and learned by the students. Some of this knowledge is transferable from classroom to classroom, but much of this knowledge needs to be learned and re-understood in new contexts and learning environments. It is imperative to understand the impact of multiple cultural environments on the students and their effects in the classroom. It is not static!
  5. Keen understanding of their own interpersonal issues and learning styles. This is an area that is often overlooked, but essential for educators to be the most effective in working with the whole student. We do not want educators to inadvertently prioritize their own needs in exchange for meeting the needs of the student. If educators have excellent instructional skills, but lack in insight about themselves, then educators are at higher risk of holding stereotypical beliefs, bias, and prejudice within the classroom. If educators have strong skills in addition to understanding personal strengths, weaknesses, values, and challenges, then that creates educators who are better able to learn, change, and adapt within the classroom, and creates greater awareness of how to create favourable learning environments.
  6. Adequate balance between listening skills, and lecturing as the classroom expert. This is where Inquiry Based Learning, and Project Based Learning are important, in order to enable students to ask the questions, make the plans, and explore and answer their questions through experiential learning.
  7. Facilitates collaboration and cooperation in Flexible ways. Effective Educators are able to assist students in their inquiry, and assist students learning together, rather than engaging in coercion of students with regards to what they must learn at prescribed times, and how they must learn.
  8. Many different types of Assessment are valued utilized when determining final grades. A variety of dynamic and fluid assessments done in real time, and in culturally appropriate ways that respects the individual, are important to understanding the whole student, and accurately assessing what they truly know.
  9. An Ability to handle complex situations & discomfort in appropriate ways. Let’s face it, when dealing with a classroom full of personalities, backgrounds, cultures, and learning styles and needs of not just students, but also parents, and all other stakeholders in a student’s education, situations are bound to be complex and uncomfortable situations are unavoidable. They will occur. Effective educators understand themselves, and understand how to effectively deal with difficult situations..
  10. Understanding of when it is okay to ask for help and support from colleagues and supervisors. Learning is not static, and is always evolving, especially in terms of Globalization and 21st Century technology skills. Further, we all develop our areas of knowledge at different rates, and some areas may be stronger than others. It is not a sign of weakness to understand what areas need help and improvement!
  11. Strong educators feel competent and valuable. When educators feel this way about themselves, they are more likely to continue to teach in ways that strengthens this view!
  12. Critical Thinkers and ability to engage in Metacognition. This involves an awareness of personal cognitive reasoning processes and how they affect own thinking abilities and reasoning of teaching practices and assessment procedures.
  13. Ability to manage power differential. Effective Educators do not misuse power by trying to steer students into the ‘right’ direction.
  14. Ability to work through ethical issues, and conflict  in careful ways that take into account the best interests of all students. Restorative practice may also be a valuable strategy to use because it values all parties.

In conclusion, the most effective educators have a strong sense of self-esteem, and strong skill sets and areas of knowledge. They respect students and seek out help whenever needed. They are culturally aware, and flexible with the needs of the student dynamics in each individual classroom. It is these characteristics and competencies that build positive working relationships and alliances within the classroom, and among all stakeholders in the education of our students!

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.





Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: