“The” question from a student teacher

About 20 former students spent the last 3 weeks at our school, doing their required “practice teaching” for their education degree. On the very first morning, about 6 of them filed into my office to ask to come and observe some lessons that day. After watching my class and taking copious notes (scary to think of the implications), one teacher came up and asked,


“What’s the most important thing to be a good teacher?”

I was ready for her because I’ve been thinking, re-thinking and re-evaluating this very question for the past year. From a “simple is best” approach, I answered:

  1. You have to “connect” with the students.
  2. You have to gain their “trust”.

If you can’t accomplish these first 2 steps, nothing else matters. These 2 simple ideas are jam-packed with overlapping layers of meaning and implications. I feel them quite deeply but struggle to explain them in detail off the top of my head. I’ll make an attempt at some point soon to elaborate. I’d love to hear any other opinions about the “MOST” important thing to be a good teacher.

That teacher happened to be an English teacher so I couldn’t help adding the following:

  1. Find the necessary balance between STUDYING English and USING English.
  2. Expect students (Ss) to understand the need to MAKE AN EFFORT to improve their English.
  3. Explore what MOTIVATES your students and use that to motivate them.
  4. FUN is important, but DIFFICULT BUT FUN is even better.
  5. Do students understand WHY they are doing what you’ve asked them to do? Do you?
  6. Read Paul Nations’ 4 strands of a balanced English program. pnation4strandsillt0010002.pdf
  7. Keep reading, learning and developing professionally (a whole other post – coming soon!)

Of course I didn’t put the poor young lady through all that at once, but over the 3 weeks – I sure did.

Cheers and Good night,


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