We recently spoke to Eddie Woo (of WooTube and Teenage Boss infamy) to get his thoughts on what makes a good teacher. This question was sparked by our own frustration at the enormous differences between classroom teaching styles and teachers ability to engage a student. Given Eddie’s popularity, we figured his approach was worth listening to.
“Great maths teachers must marry two key skills,” explains Eddie. “First, they have to know their individual students well so that they can provide tailored support and know how to engage them with the subject. A typical high school teacher like me will have about 150 students in their various classes during an average year, and so there is enormous diversity in their learning needs and backgrounds!
“But second, they also have to a deep knowledge of the curriculum. This enables them to know what concepts to emphasise, how to anticipate common student errors and what explanations or experiences are most helpful to develop understanding.”
You can read more of Eddie’s insightful thoughts on kids learning maths here.
Given the success of his massive YouTube channel (over 1 million subscribers and counting), it’s really interesting that Eddie puts the personal relationship with his students first and foremost. It’s a reminder that our kids can be ‘tutored’ by others – including tutorials on YouTube and other places – but the relationship they have with their classroom teacher is critical.
We asked around to find out from both students, parents and teachers what makes a good teacher. Some of their answers might surprise you!
What makes a good teacher?
“A good teacher is a fun teacher. They make lessons entertaining and you don’t get bored and switch off.” – Jayson, 12, Year 7
“My favourite teacher so far was Miss Wiseman because she was caring and kind.” – Anthony, 11, year 5
“I like any teacher that takes the time to get to know me and adapts lessons to suit the whole classroom, not just the smarter kids.” – Claire, 16, Year 10
“A good teacher listens and doesn’t just stand up at the front of the classroom dictating to bored kids. They get feedback and are flexible.” – Rayaan, 14, Year 8
“The best teachers are the ones who can relate the subject matter to real life. The real life of a teen, I mean. What’s going on for us right now.” – Jade, 17, Year 12
“The teachers I like best are the ones that try to relate to the class, not just do their own thing. It’s much more interesting when they get to know you.” – Matt, Year 10
“I think what makes a good teacher is one with plenty of experience dealing with lots of different kinds of students. Teaching to every learning style.” – Mrs C, English and Drama
“Good teachers can be many kinds of teachers – strict, more easy going, current or old-school. The defining characteristic is that they take the time to get to know their students and make the classroom a conversation, rather than a lecture.” – Ms W, Maths and PE
“I like to think I’m a great teacher because I listen to my students and work really hard to create lessons that will engage them.” – Mr P, Maths
“I think it’s easier to define a bad teacher as opposed to a good one. That’s because there are plenty of ways to teach a classroom of students well, but only one way to disengage them and that’s to never take the time to get to know them.” – Mrs T, Science
“Good teachers adapt learning plans to suit individuals as much as possible. Their door is always open and they personally get to know the kids as well.” – Miss R, English and Drama
“A good teacher is one that puts in every effort to explain the curriculum in a way the kids can understand and relate to.” – Mr R, HSIE
“Having a thorough understanding of the curriculum so you can adapt it to suit what your students are into. I think learning styles are also important and look to give varying examples so different learners can grasp onto something each time.” – Mrs R, History and Geography
“A good teacher is one let’s me know if my child is falling behind!” – Leonie, mum of kids aged 7, 11 and 13
“Being caring. At the end of the day, kids will learn regardless of the teaching skills. But, not being caring makes a crappy teacher.” – Kylie, kids aged 8 and 10
“The teacher one of my children had in year 5 took him from being a kid who hated school to a kid who skipped in each day. He’s never forgotten her.” – Sarah, mum of daughter 14 and son 16
“Remembering that not all kids learn the same way! Being able to adjust to students and think outside the box to help them.” – Tracy, sons aged 11 and 16
“They approach learning holistically. They see the whole child and not just a test score. They hard to give their students the tools they need to be the best versions of themselves. Education is approached mindfully and resilience is a huge factor in their learning.” – Tegan, mum of son, 11
“Being adaptable, patient, caring and kind. Knowing that not every day will be the same and what my children are okay with one day they might struggle with the next.” – Cathy, mum of kids 17, 9, 8 and 5, two with ASD
“Seeing each child as an individual and taking some time to understand them and their interests – which can be very different from their siblings.” – Rebecca, mum to kids aged 12, 15 and 16
Kids know a fake, so being genuine with their interactions, remembering things about them and the way they learn. Any teacher can teach them things if they don’t feel a connection or can’t relate that knowledge to real-life then they haven’t reached that child. Teachers need to be adaptable and go with the flow at times, especially with remote learning. If something isn’t working, change it up and try a different way.” – Cathie, kids aged 14, 13 and 7
Love the students
There you have it, and there’s a very strong common thread. As Eddie Woo recognises, a good teacher is one who gets to know their students. They take time to understand what would be most engaging to them and adapt their lessons to suit. A good teacher is also flexible and brings parents into the learning when necessary.
I think we all recognise a “good teacher” simply by the fact that they love their job and, most of all, they love kids. Something no one mentioned was knowledge or passion for the subject matter. I think some teachers make the mistake of going into teaching because they love maths or science or PE, rather than that they love teaching. It definitely shows when the are that kind of teacher. A love of the students and the process of educating is top priority when it comes to someone being a great teacher.
What do you think makes a good teacher?