1. Their authority in the classroom is established not through fear but through being seen by students as an "expert" educator.
To be feared by students is easy and can be established very quickly. To be seen as an "expert" in the classroom takes far longer and is a lot harder to maintain. An expert in this context consistent is reflecting on what is working for some, all, one student and isn't concerned about subtle and/or dramatic changes in the middle of a unit or if need be, in the middle of a lesson.
2. They know their students on a a professional but holistic level.
Teaching in my experience is part motivating, part counselling and part educating students and I believe more and more in that order. Students for the most part respect people over positions and want to know some of the person behind the teacher. To know students' personalities means an insight into their needs, wants and what motivates them to learn.
3. They are great & immediate reactors to student progress (or lack of) and listen to their students about learning.
Great teachers know formatively where their students are at (individually and collectively), see little value in summative assessments in terms of informing academic ability and hear how students want to learn, when and where. The great teachers follow their students as opposed to vice versa.
4. They are at ease utilising a range of teaching and learning methods but at all times, prioritise the student.
I have seen the most disruptive students handled by teachers through variation of voice, a cultural connection or accepting the unique pastoral demands of students. I have great teachers by letting students work on the floor, work outside, always work individually. Furthermore, these teachers understand that the same techniques don't always work for the same audience. They match their teaching and learning to the context in front of them and not what the context should be.
5. They don't aim for every lesson to be perfect but do aim for and won't settle for anything less than excellence long-term.
I remember even today one of my first ever teaching lessons. My poor students must have copied down the equivalent of three whiteboards in one lesson with no time for academic conversation or critique. Hey, I had to make sure they got all the content they needed didn't I? Great teachers understand that student learning is a non-linear experience, a marathon as opposed to a sprint.
6. They are very rarely "lecturing" their students or visible as merely transmitters or font of knowledge.
The great teachers have noisy, engaged students academically challenging each other, the teacher and the content. Teachers today as just in the past understand the transient nature of content, so instead value teaching analysis, critical response, independent & collaborative learning. The great teachers are often responding to student inquiry, rarely at the front of the class and often so engaged in the teaching and learning they see themselves as a student as much as a teacher.
7. They have a sense of humour.
8. They often make public mistakes in the classroom and turn them into brilliant learning opportunities.
Things in teaching go wrong and often. Teachers forget content, the Wi-Fi fails, the textbooks can't be found, the fire alarm goes off just before or during the end of year exam. Regardless of the unforeseen impediments, teachers transform the moment and make the mishaps at hand into authentic learning opportunities and almost more importantly, use the hindrance as a context for teaching resilience, adaptability and in many cases, highly instantaneous creativity.
9. They continuously seek to grow themselves as educational practitioners and ask the most questions about pedagogy, classroom resourcing & technology.
I believe the best teachers still fundamentally see themselves as perpetual educational learners. In completing my Masters, I couldn't believe how many questions post graduate students asked compared to undergraduates. Just as the smartest students often ask the most questions and query teachers more than anyone, the great teachers are constantly reflecting on their teaching philosophy and theories-in-use. The great teachers in this light seem to be constantly looking for the new tool to advance their students academically and seem to never sit still pedagogically and in terms of trialling new technologies for students' benefit. These great teachers also tend to try and fail more educational initiatives, pedagogies and technologies than anyone else and keep smiling and searching.
10.They don't recreate the wheel but do "beg, borrow & steal" whenever and whatever they can.
Great teachers where necessary do originate but often for the most part,see what their neighbour is doing and as soon as possible, modify to their local teaching & learning context and implement immediately. The great teachers see themselves as individually responsible in the classroom but simultaneously collegial and global contributors, leaders and innovators. These teachers consistently share best practice, effective teaching and learning resources & support their colleagues pedagogically and pastorally, while being able to exist as a critical and evidenced-based "friend."
In closing, I believe all teachers have the ability to be great, and that all teachers have some if not all of the above attributes I've covered. Often for a teacher to be "great" rather than "good", obviously dedication, education are required but above all, it may come down to sheer belief in an educator's iron-will belief to be an effective change agent and an unbreaking perseverance to see the change happen, to get the job done.