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What Makes a Great College Professor

Posted on Sunday April 10, 2011 by Staff Writers

Almost every student out there has had a teacher or professor at some point in their education who changed their attitude about school, helped them to find their passion or made them just plain love coming to class every day. That these great professors exist is easy to see, but defining just what makes them stand out from other educators can be a bit more complicated to pin down. Whether you aspire to be a professor yourself one day or just want to seek out more professors that will help to inspire you, here are some qualities that help make the best educators able to do what they do.

Passion. A great teacher is always passionate about the topics he or she teachers. They are able to convey this passion to students and often leave them wanting to know more about the subject, even reading materials that aren’t assigned for the course. Their passion gets students engaged and in love with learning.

Communication. Many topics in college will be complex and hard to teach, but those who are best at their jobs will be able to explain these sometimes abstract ideas to students without dumbing things down or confusing them. This can often mean being a great public speaker and storyteller and providing not only information but ways to keep listeners entertained by the subject mater, however dry, at the same time.

Creativity. Lectures can be great, but sitting through several of them a day can be a bit dull. The best professors will know how to shake things up. They might add fun examples to their lectures that make topics more interesting or might get students up and involved in projects that help them to learn.

Adaptability. Being stuck in a rut is never a good thing, for educators or any profession. Great teachers know this and can adapt their teaching style and material to fit the needs and desires of their students, enriching the experience both for those whom they’re educating and themselves.

Respect. A great professor should know a lot but shouldn’t talk down to or demean students. Instead, a professor that truly stands out treats students with respect. He or she will have high expectations for students and will reassure students that they can achieve these goals. Students are rarely afraid to talk to these kinds of professors or to bring up personal issues and questions they have.

The lessons great teachers have to offer aren’t just out of books, they can be life lessons as well. How? The traits that make great professors so, well, great at what they do aren’t exclusive to academics. You can use these abilities to model your own behavior and help you get ahead and lead others in any field you might choose to pursue.