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15 Remarkable Traits We Love About Great Teachers

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Great teachers inspire us, uplift us, and kick us in the pants when we need it. They are passionate and patient. And they never stop cheering for their "kids."

With Teacher Appreciation Week just around the corner (May 2-6), don’t forget to say thanks to the special teacher (or teachers) who impacted your life for the better.

Don’t assume they already know how pivotal they were to you or are to your children, or hope that someone else will tell them instead. Send them a message on Facebook or drop them a line in the mail. However you do it, explain what they meant to you and set an example for your kids or grandkids to do the same. Because great teachers—truly great teachers—deserve more praise than they’ll ever receive.

Use this list of 15 reasons we love our favorite teachers to get started. And try not to procrastinate—they taught you better than that!

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1. They listen more than they talk.

Wise teachers know when to be quiet and let their students lead the discussion. Lectures have their place, but self-directed learning is equally important.

2. They believe in their students above everything.

We’ve all had teachers who encouraged us to do something we never thought we could do. They noticed talent within us we didn’t even see in ourselves!

3. They know performance doesn’t indicate future success.

Everyone has off days. Or weeks. Or years. Teachers know that one "F" does not label you a misfit. They encourage you to try again and keep moving forward, no matter what.

4. They care about the whole student.

Home life affects school life. Whether it’s a divorce, a death, or a move, good teachers care about more than your test scores. They care about you.

5. They’re passionate about what they teach.

Top teachers eat, sleep and breathe their subject matter. They’re forever excited about what they’re teaching, and it’s fantastically contagious!

6. They find ways to make the most boring material exciting and applicable.

Remember the science teacher who jumped off the counter to demonstrate gravity? Or the math teacher who had you measure the circumference of your Oreo before you ate it? They bring the fun to class.

7. They don’t enable, they encourage.

Great teachers don’t let you beg for a better grade. But they do let you finish loads of extra credit or rewrite that failing paper three times. If you’re willing to put in the work, they’re willing to give you another chance.

8. They’re unconventional.

There’s always that one incredible teacher who thinks way outside the textbook. They find fresh ways to bring the curriculum to life through outdoor nature hunts and challenging mental games. Every class leaves you guessing—and learning.

9. They put students before curriculum.

Teachers are required to cover certain lessons, but they realize students aren’t robots. If their kids need a field trip or a free reading day, they make it happen. Refreshed minds make for better students.

10. They are positive and patient.

You can’t keep a good teacher down. They bounce back from failure and difficulty with an unstoppable can-do attitude. They never, ever, ever give up.

11. They are tough when they need to be.

Not every student is a perfect angel—maybe you can relate. A good teacher knows how to keep their class clowns and chatty Cathys in line, without derailing the entire class in the process. One stern glance and you know it’s time to zip it.

12. They can figure out how each student learns.

Everyone learns differently. Some are visual learners, while others are verbal; some need reinforcing homework, while others are bored with all the extra practice. Great teachers gauge these differences and cater to each child’s needs.

13. They can think on the fly.

When a field trip gets rained out or a school assembly gets canceled, teachers know how to fill in the gap without missing a beat. They bring order to chaos.

14. They approach everything as a learning opportunity.

Teachers can’t stop teaching. They do it at home, in line at the grocery store, in emails to their friends. It’s fun to watch them make educational connections in every aspect of their lives.

15. They never stop learning.

The wheels on a teacher’s brain are constantly in motion. They’re fascinated by articles, books, documentaries, statistics, studies and most of all, people! It’s who they are and how they’re wired.

We’ve all experienced the profound effect of life-changing teachers. Your kids or grandkids are probably benefiting from a few special teachers of their own now! Be sure to thank them this month for all that they’ve done. And while you’re at it, be sure to share Dave Ramsey’s Teacher Appreciation Giveaway. They might even win a vacation!

Dave Ramsey’s Teacher Appreciation Giveaway, sponsored by Zander Insurance Group, runs throughout the month of April. Teachers can enter for a chance to win an all-inclusive vacation for two, a $500 gift card to use in their classroom, or a school assembly with Ramsey Personality Anthony ONeal. Teachers can enter at daveramsey.com/teacher.

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