Recipe for Great Teaching

While reading Anita Turner’s book, Recipe for Great Teaching (2006), I was challenged to check my own teaching style for all the right ingredients. Great teaching is an art. Just like a chef has to mix all the correct ingredients in the right way to create a delicious dish, a teacher must incorporate all the essential ingredients into the classroom to produce great teaching.


Anita reminded me that “Each ingredient is essential to achieving the goal of being a great teacher, but the recipe for excellent teaching requires the right mixture of all the ingredients.”

Do you have all the essential ingredients? James Stronge in his book, Qualities of Effective Teachers (2007), reminds us that “Teachers with more than three years experience are more effective than those with three years or fewer, but these differences seem to level off after five to eight years.” Why do they level off? Too many times teachers are not challenged to keep the essential ingredients all in the proper balance.

Check your own recipe for teaching and see if it contains the following essential ingredients in the right proportions:

  • Mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5)

A Christian school teacher must be saved and assured of his or her calling into the ministry. A teacher must be sensitive to the spiritual needs of the students and be able to guide them in God’s truths.

  • Love (Luke 10:27)

A teacher must love the Lord, the students, and the profession of teaching.

  • Empathy (Matt. 9:36)

A teacher must do whatever it takes to bring out the best in the students. Patience makes a teacher have a caring disposition and concerned attitude toward a student that needs extra love, support, and help.

  • Communication

A teacher must communicate in an effective manner with the students and the parents. The #1 teaching problem is poor communication. A teacher must check for comprehension and understanding. James Stronge (2007) reminds us that “A teacher’s ability to give clear and focused explanations to students and to clarify expectations for achievement are important aspects of effective instructional delivery.”

  • Praise

A teacher must have an optimistic view of every child and communicate that to them. Anita Turner (2006) reminds us that “Praise lubricates the machinery that propels learners toward mountain-top experiences!” Really listen closely to what you sound like – sweet or bitter??

  • Change Agent 

A teacher must be used by God to be a change agent in the lives of the students. How are you encouraging Christ transformation in your students? Do not be content to leave them as they are but help them transform into the person God wants them to be. You are a tool that God uses for this purpose.

  • Differentiated Teaching Methods

A teacher must vary the teaching methods to feed all learner appetites. Anita Turner (2006) reminds us that “A great teacher has the ability to present a delectable assortment of standards-based activities or lessons that will satisfy even the most finicky intellectual, emotional, and social appetite.”

  • Discipline

A teacher must have the correct amount of discipline administered in love. The discipline is received well if the teacher has created a relationship with the student that is based on love, care, and concern. Discipline must be administered in a consistent manner.

  • Enthusiasm

A teacher must have enthusiasm for the Lord, the content being taught, and the students. Enthusiasm is like a fire that the students will catch. What are you enthusiastic about?

  • Good Attitude

A teacher must have a good attitude. Students will read the attitude of the teacher and act accordingly.

  • Dedication

A teacher must be dedicated to the calling of teaching and training young people for God’s glory.

Do you have the recipe right or does it need some tweaking? Great teaching is not a “piece of cake!”

What would you add to the recipe?  

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Dr. Cathy Dotson serves as the Elementary Principal of Wilmington Christian Academy in Wilmington, NC. Her 21 years in Christian education and expertise in early childhood and elementary learning ideally equip her to share with FOCUS readers.

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  • Martha Earwood Reed

    I love this list! I’d spice up the recipe with a dash of humility and a generous sprinkle of consistency!