Chris Stabile


Chris Stabile, EdD

Associate Vice Chancellor of Teaching and Learning

Teaching Expert- Provides Valuable Insight about the Teaching Career


What makes a successful teacher?

This is great question to ask if one is entering the profession of education. I would place the most successful element of a teacher is their belief about themselves as a learner. One who learns and understands why and how one learns has the true element of a successful teacher. In this brief essay, I will spell out three areas to answer the modification of the original question.

I ask then, what makes a successful teacher-as-learner?
First, the process of becoming a successful teacher stems from the motivation behind entering the profession of education. Choice differs from decision as choice implies responsibility, want and desire unlike decision where the mindset implies a “have to,” chores and competition.

For example, if one is asked: why did you become a teacher? And the response is “I like time off, I like children and my parents were teachers,” which reflect a decision-based attitude where the element of intrinsic happiness is missing. If things change, the person will not be happy. What happens then when the children in the teacher’s care become overwhelming? The person becomes less happy and may leave teaching. In other words, a decision is external to the person, while choice is internal, so if one chooses to become a teacher, then no matter what happens, the desire and responsibility remains regardless of the situation.

This passion for learning and wanting to help others is motivated by the right mindset that establishes the necessary foundation of a successful teacher. A successful teacher is one who will always want to improve, share, learn and grow because these are natural responsibilities of great teachers.

The second aspect of a successful teacher is the desire to reflect and continually improve. This reflective process starts with the core mission of a teacher, where one asks “why do I do what I do?” Realizing that teaching is learning and facilitated learning is to teach, then the methods in which to help students learn must be lived by the teacher. A mark of a successful teacher is the use data and other information to continually improve, not because they have to, but because they want to, as wanting to, is a sign of a professional teacher. One must start with their own inner understanding and intrinsic belief that being a successful teacher is a process and not an event, which takes continual growth. This is belief that would allow this teacher to make a positive difference by changing the life one student at a time. This inner mission of a teacher influences the actions that teacher does in and outside the classroom.

Third, a successful teacher chooses to inspire students to learn rather than teach a class or the chapters. This means that a successful teacher holds that belief that both students and teachers are human thereby having the capacity to learn. This teacher will be more likely to engage in their own learning and look for ways to challenge their students to learn rather than going through the motions of teaching. A successful teacher wants to look for ways to inspire and share those successes with their peer teachers by working within a community approach in order to inspire others to become successful teachers.  It is their belief that they are agents of change and they act accordingly by helping others selflessly achieve their goals because it is the right thing to do.

The earmark of a successful teacher is one who acts from emotion and care. This starts with the choice that teacher made back in their college days to enter the profession of teaching and education. If one does not have this successful teacher mindset, then anything that that teacher does may not be for the right reason and their happiness in the profession changes based on extrinsic factors  which increases the likelihood that they leave education, where most leave within the first 5 years of their career. Teaching and learning is an intrinsic calling rather than a natural progression expressed by “I could not get into medicine so I will be a teacher” or “I want to change careers so I will give teaching a try.” These reasons will help make the person leave teaching faster then why they entered in the profession in the first place. Thus, through reflecting on one’s beliefs about teaching, learning, students, the role of a teacher, and education will help one find their “inner successful teacher” as it is in all of us, we just need to find it.

10 Pros in the Teaching Career

  1. Changing lives
  2. Making a positive difference
  3. View career as a noble profession
  4. Sharing with peers and students
  5. Life-long learning
  6. Education advancement
  7. Contribute to the community
  8. Research and experimentation on learning
  9. Socialization of future generations
  10. Inner reflection and growth

10 Cons in the Teaching Career

  1. Government oversight
  2. Testing is the reform
  3. Condition of education process varies from state to state and community
  4. Parents positively and negatively influence students
  5. Teaching not viewed as its own profession by society
  6. Persons entering from limited mindset
  7. Perception of teaching as easy
  8. Schools of education viewed as revenue generating
  9. Teachers as scapegoats
  10. Negative view of teachers’ unions

 Weblinks for Teaching and Learning

Formative Assessment

Graphic Organizers


Study methods

Studying with children under foot

Florida Teaching Certification Process and other Resources

US Department of Education

Core Reflection

Starting with the Soul




Curriculum and Supervision

ABA International