What Makes a Good Online Teacher: 8 Essential Qualities

By Editorial Staff •  Updated: 04/18/23 •  Teach Online

A good online ESL teacher must be able to come up with engaging lessons that are personalized for the needs of their students. Even if the lesson is based off pre-made material supplied by the online teaching platform. They also have to be able to use the tools available on the internet in order to make sure that they’re teaching in a way that is interesting and relevant (like a greenscreen for example).

Let’s explore the eight essential qualities of a good online teacher so you can have increased booking, provide a better teaching experience and enjoy the whole process of teaching English online.

1) They are innovative and creative.

An effective online ESL teacher can’t just rely on their old teaching methods to get a response from students, they need to use new techniques that will keep the course interesting for learners. Essentials like props, upgrading required technology like your webcam and microphone as well as using TPR are all essential.

This is even more true even if you’re using some type of reward system for your students in your online class. It’s one small way to stand out and provide a good teaching experience parents will love.

2) They are an effective communicator in the online space

We all know that effective communication is essential for any relationship, and the same goes for teaching online. Not every teacher is able to translate their skills into the online environment easily. For a lot, getting in front of a webcam for the first time is awkward. It takes practice and consistency, but developing strong communication skills for an online classroom is vital.

You need to be able to effectively communicate the lesson objectives, vocabulary, target sentence structures and feedback in a positive manner (even if you have difficult students). This means being aware of how your students learn best. Most learn best through actual speaking and listening in an organic way through the use of visual cues associated with good TPR.

3) They learn and adapt to the online environment

As we previously stated, the online environment is not for everyone. Some take to it quite easily while other teachers struggle with the technical side of teaching online, classroom management and TPR to make the lesson more engaging.

A good, competent online teacher knows their strengths and weaknesses and works to correct any deficiencies. Sometimes this simply means accepting that you’re not going to be a particularly good online at first. But with time, effort and practice you can grow into the position.

For online teaching, we found that using specific blue light glasses really helped with extensive bookings of online classes.

4) They’re open to feedback and advice from mentors and parent feedback

Good online teachers stay current with new technologies that enhance their lessons as well as material providers who offer online teaching resources they can use for free or at a discounted rate.

Also, they don’t get upset or offended by negative parent feedback regarding lessons. Look, it happens sometimes. You teach a class, you don’t really connect with the student as your styles are different. In other instances, you think the lesson went well but are surprised by negative parent feedback.

A professional online teacher has the ability to take feedback and criticism. Sometimes the critiques are unfair, but often times it’s something you could actually improve upon like talking more slowly, being more energetic or using TPR.

5) They are willing to upgrade their technology as required

At Teach and GO, we know that not every teacher want’s to spend a lot of money on techy stuff we think we can do without. But just like how you spend money on teacher supplies, you do need to be willing to upgrade your tech as required.

One of the most important qualities is that they are willing to upgrade your technology as required. It will not only help you feel more confident and professional, but it also shows that you care about providing an optimal learning experience for your students.

A quality (and affordable) webcam will provide better visuals than an integrated webcam on your laptop. A decent pair headsets will enable better audio for teaching from home – even something as simple as designing a background or getting props could make all the difference.

6) The best teachers are invested in their profession

Excellent online teachers are willing to put the time, money, and effort into making your learning experience as engaging and enriching as possible. While it can become frustrating with some online platforms never forget the students on the other end.

Be committed to continually improving your skills both as an education, instructor and presenter by enrolling in continuing education classes on instructional design or presentation skills; studying other instructors’ best practices; participating in conferences, workshops, seminars, professional development opportunities such as coaching from more experienced colleagues or reading books related to instruction or presentation styles (e.g., adult learners); seeking out feedback from students,

7) A good online teacher is fun, knowledgeable and uses appropriate TPR

The best teachers are interested in their profession and what they can do to improve it. They’re enthusiastic about teaching, which can be seen through their efforts to provide a quality online learning experience as well as take time to answer your questions or respond directly to comments on the platform you’re using.

A good teacher will have fun with her students and put effort into making an engaging lesson that includes practical applications of material studied, changes up strategies when needed based on student needs, understands how different types of learners learn differently and responds appropriately.

It’s also important for a good online teacher to know his or her subject area with mastery out so they are able to use challenging concepts effectively without overwhelming or confusing their students. Last, they actually plan out lessons and stay on top of their students performance.

8) They are prepared for technical problems (that will eventually happen)

Technical problems are not a matter of if but when. Instead of stressing out be prepared for the worst. In general, the most common tech problem online teachers have is a last minute loss of internet. Having some type of backup internet ready as that is usually the most common we as online teachers face.

First, realize that you can use your phone as a hotspot. Depending on your plan depends on how much data you can tether. Most plans are enough to cover an hour of online teaching. Just make sure to setup everything before you need it.

When making a phone a hotspot you’ll need to set a password. Go ahead and do so, then connect your laptop. You want to do this now because you don’t have time to fumble around figuring this out when your class is starting in 5 minutes.

Last, you can consider getting a mobile hotspot. Helpful in a variety of situations, this will be a very helpful device to have if you’re needing fast, reliable internet.


To make it on this list you need more than just an internet connection – you need dedication, patience, empathy, time management skills, adaptability and flexibility while still maintaining high standards. You also have to be honest with yourself when it comes to your strengths and weaknesses so you have a willingness to continually improve.

If you’re curious about how to leverage your teaching in a more passive way then consider creating an online course. While you don’t need to make this into 100% of your income, it is nice to have a revenue coming in outside of class. I found “the complete online teaching masterclass” to be helpful. Maybe you will to?

Editorial Staff

I'm David Unwin and I head the editorial staff here at Teach and GO. I've taught as an ESL teacher in Thailand for 5+ years at all levels of education, from elementary to University. I was also one of the first 1000 VIPKID teachers. I and my team now share my extensive experience as a teacher here at Teach and GO. Learn more.

Keep Reading