What makes an influential teacher?

Everyone has that one great teacher they remember from school. The teacher they liked above all others, who understood them, inspired them and supported them in their endeavours. So, what makes an influential teacher? What methods do they use to shape and inspire young minds?

Here are some of the key characteristics that make an influential teacher:


In order to inspire students to learn, an influential teacher must be knowledgeable in the area they are teaching. A thorough, in-depth knowledge of the curriculum allows teachers to consider the most effective methods to teach content to students. They teach in a way that students can comprehend and engage with critically to formulate thought-provoking questions.


If a teacher isn’t passionate about what they’re teaching, the students won’t be either. According to research by John Hattie, passion is one of the most important factors for high performing teachers. Exhibiting passion for a subject creates excitement that students can feed off. When students name a teacher that inspires them, it’s often a teacher that loves their profession.

Storytelling ability

Tory Vidler states, “Teaching in the 21st century is no longer about being an oracle, but a facilitator of curiosity and critical thinking skills.” Teachers that are able to present information in a scenario that students can relate to are able to employ more effective teaching methods to aid students’ understanding in multiple subject areas. Stories foster a child’s ability to think critically as they insert themselves into the situation and consider how they would behave in that scenario.


Great teachers genuinely care about their students and have a vested interest in their success. They demonstrate warmth and empathy to each of their students; being mentally present when they are with them. As Rita Pierson sums up in her TED talk, Every kid needs a champion — “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like,” echoing Theodore Roosevelt’s famous quote, “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.”


According to Shaun Killian, effective teachers care about their students, while also expecting them to do well. The pressure of high expectations pushes students to excel, not only academically but also behaviourally. The creation of a ‘high-performance, teacher-student relationship’ creates an environment that allows for positive influence.


Influential teachers bring a positive and upbeat attitude to the classroom. Positivity motivates students and sparks learning. Joan Young’s book, Encouragement in the Classroom, unpacks the importance of a positive classroom environment and how it produces a powerful ripple effect that continually enhances learning.

The combination of these attributes helps take a teacher from good to inspirational; they are memorable because they champion their students and go the extra mile when needed.

Christ Church Grammar School takes prides in its talented and dedicated team of teaching staff who are skilled at igniting a spark of genius in every boy. To learn more about our ‘art and science’ of teaching on how we motivate boys to be their best, download our Pedagogy Handbook.

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