What Makes an Excellent Teacher?

By Virginia Murray, M.A.
Online Faculty, College of Education

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During Teacher Appreciation Week, many teachers receive gifts to adorn their desks, or maybe even a poem or letter from a parent or student.

I received many over the years I taught in the public school system. It is nice to feel appreciated and receive positive feedback on a job well done. Budget cuts, new standards, increased accountability and the need to perform make the field of education a challenging one.

As I look back on the teachers that made the most impact, and on the educators I know who are working to make lives better for students in school districts around the state, I think about the qualities that define an excellent teacher.

Many school districts are using the Danielson Framework for Teaching (The Danielson Group 2013) to define highly qualified, competent educators and develop teacher evaluation instruments that assess skills identified as indicators for high-quality instruction.

This framework defines four major domains of effective teaching. The four domains addressed in the framework include:

  1. Planning and preparing lessons
  2. Establishing an effective classroom environment
  3. Delivering effective instruction using research-based techniques
  4. Participating in professional responsibilities that contribute to the profession

The components of these domains are frequently used by teachers in the field.

References: The Danielson Group (2013). Retrieved from danielsongroup.org/framework

Are you following this framework in your teaching? Comment below with your feedback. Learn more about Grand Canyon University’s College of Education Promise by visiting our website

Sometimes being a great teacher also means going the extra mile for students. Read more in one of our latest blog posts, Why I Teach.

More About Virginia:

Virginia is an online faculty member at Grand Canyon University, experienced Autism Spectrum Disorder coach and teacher mentor dedicated to providing support in classroom management, IEP development, development of focused transition plans, behavior management and differentiation of instruction to teachers and their students in kindergarten through twelfth grade general education settings, resource classroom settings and self-contained classroom settings.  Virginia also owns Virginia Murray Consulting and assists clients in providing education for adults with disabilities, helping young adults with disabilities gain independence and employment. She has over 25 years of experience in public education. She is currently working on her Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Special Education at GCU. She is passionate about preparing and supporting new teachers in finding their purpose and providing service to students in education settings.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.