What makes a great teacher?

Here at Edinburgh Napier University, we’re very excited to launch our Teacher Education programme. It’s designed by teachers, for teachers – but at the end of your training, the type of teacher you become is up to you. Here are some of the things that make a good teacher.

The learning relationship is mutual

Sure, you’re here to teach your students. But remember that you can learn a lot from them, too. The world your students inhabit will be very different from your own, and just because you don’t understand Fortnite doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant.

Make time to reflect

This is important on the good days as well as the bad. After each class, write down three things that went well and three things that need improving, or even just one of each if you’re pressed for time. This approach allows you to try new things, and then pick the methods that work with your personality and teaching style.

Make yourself available

Teachers have a massive impact on the course that each student’s life takes – five minutes of your time can make a big difference to a student who is struggling, or who may not have other people in their life to turn to. Being able to see the difference this makes to students is one thing that many teachers say is a highlight of their job.

Keep your cool

A study by the GTCS asked children and young people across a wide range of age groups what they found effective in a teacher. The one common answer? Don’t shout. Managing a classroom can unpredictable and the biggest challenge for teachers, but part of your training will prepare you to deal with these situations. And never underestimate the power of silence!

Personality is important

You don’t need to erase your personality to be a great teacher – there are as many ways to be a great teacher as there are people in the world. Passion for your subject, humour, and experience will all contribute to keeping your students engaged, and your energy will motivate them, too.


Being an authority on your subject alone isn’t enough to make you a great teacher. Our four new Teaching courses in Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics are designed by teachers, for teachers, and aim to get you confident in the classroom from day one.