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Out of 69 total characteristics, the following are the top 10 used to define “master teachers” as ranked in order of importance by more than 700 teachers, principals, and superintendents:

  1. Create an environment that advances student learning. Tweet this
  2. Have a passion for teaching.
  3. Have respectful classrooms.
  4. Desire to be excellent teachers.
  5. Have high expectations of themselves for becoming exemplary teachers.
  6. Believe all students can learn.
  7. Foster and maintain the respect of their students.
  8. Believe their teaching is affected by both their attitudes and skills.
  9. Motivate students to set and strive for the highest expectations of themselves.
  10. Exemplify ethical standards.

The first ten characteristics, starting with #1 “Create an environment that advances student learning” and ending with #10 “Exemplify ethical standards,” are what we term Level I: Foundational Characteristics.

As you look closely, you will note that these foundational characteristics set the stage for everything else a teacher will do in his or her classroom. Tweet this It is our conclusion that these characteristics must be present if a teacher is going to ever get within the vicinity of excellence. They must be present if all students are going to learn and achieve at high levels. And they must be present before the strategies and techniques a master teacher employs will have the desired impact. Without these foundational characteristics, a teacher’s success will be impaired and limited.

All 69 characteristics—as well as the research behind the identification of these characteristics—can be found in the book, Voices from the Field: What Is a Master Teacher?

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