How to Be a Good Teacher

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Everyone can be a teacher of something. But what makes a good teacher? Colin Lowther and Liz Waid share tips on how anyone can be a better teacher.

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Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Colin Lowther.

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And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

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Imagine you are in school. Picture the students sitting in their seats. And think of the teacher, standing at the front of the room. How are you feeling in this moment? Are you excited to learn? Interested? Are you participating in discussion? Or are you bored? Maybe you are falling asleep, watching the clock, or flirting with a classmate? Your thoughts say a lot about you as a student. But they also say a lot about your teacher.

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Being a teacher is very important. Teachers can be parents, professors, or even friends. But teaching is also very difficult. Each person learns differently. Some people learn better by seeing. Others learn better by reading. Some learn better by hearing. And still others learn best by doing. Some methods of teaching work best for certain subjects. Teachers must know how to best teach each different student. Have you ever tried to teach someone? Today’s Spotlight is on how to be a good teacher.

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One of the most important parts of being a good teacher is understanding how people remember things. People naturally remember things that are interesting to them. Interesting facts are easy to memorize. But information that can be used directly in someone’s life is even better. Imagine a history class. It is very difficult to learn the names of famous people who lived long ago. Event dates are difficult to remember. But if you were learning the history of another country where you were going to move, things might be different. It might be very important that you know the information.

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People also learn better when they can connect the subject to something they already know. Imagine teaching someone to repair a car. If they have no experience with machines, it could be very difficult. But if they had worked on engines before, it would be easier. This is true of all subjects, whether it is language, art, or mathematics. We remember things that are useful to us. And if we do not have context, our minds will not recognize information. This is true even if you believe what you are learning is important. It might be very important to repair your car engine. But if you do not know the parts of an engine and what they do, you will not be able to learn. A good teacher will help connect new information to something you already understand. Or they will give you a wider base of knowledge to understand.

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Another important part of teaching is learning to understand and care about your students. This means learning who they are. Not all students are the same. And some are going through things you do not know about. Suzanne Tingley is a teacher. She wrote on the blog Hey! Teach:

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“A friend of mine teaches at a high school where 44 languages are spoken. She told me she heard a student say, “I am really tired. Last night, I slept next to someone who snored.” Kids may be dealing with issues we know nothing about. Do not assume video games are to blame when work is not complete.”

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A good teacher also knows their subject very well. And they know how students think about it. Teachers must be able to correct students when they are wrong. A good teacher provides constructive criticism often. Constructive criticism corrects student’s mistakes. It gives them ideas for how to improve.

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Many people do not like to criticize. Criticizing may seem rude. Criticism can lead to shame and bad feelings when it is not planned out. But teachers must learn how to criticize in a way that is helpful. Brooke Chaplan is a writer at The Edvocate. She explains how to criticize correctly.

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“Constructive criticism is something that should always be shared in private. Begin by telling the student the good things you see about him or her. This will get you started in a good way. Then, tell them what you think is delaying their progress. Then, tell them how they can make a positive change. After, remind them that you believe in them as an individual. If you share your concerns in the right way, it is possible that the student will do what you suggested.”

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Finally, it is important to let your students be creative. They should not be afraid to ask their own questions. Much teaching in the past treated children as listeners only. Teachers gave students knowledge, and students accepted it. If a student could not learn, teachers decided the student was not intelligent enough. But today, we know that learning works differently. Students learn best when they believe they have the power to ask and explore. Sometimes, it is even good when they get things wrong!

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Imagine a mathematics class. The teacher shows you a problem. And then, she shows you how to solve the problem. You memorize the formula and will use it later on tests. Then, you will forget it. But what if, instead, your teacher asks you how you would solve the problem? You might not know the correct formula. But you can guess and work it out yourself. You think about the problem for several minutes. When you finish, your answer might be incorrect. And your teacher will finally tell you the answer. But while you are working on the problem your attitude changes. The question becomes a puzzle. Now, you want to know the answer to this puzzle. You care about the answer. And you have learned to think on your own.

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Today, most good teachers know to change their lessons to fit their students. They learn about and care about their students. They know that that learning is not about remembering everything you hear. But more than anything, they know they are not just teaching their subjects. They teach their students how to learn. And they teach them how to think for themselves. People who know how to think and learn will continue to grow. They can change more quickly when required to. And they will live fuller lives.

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Who was your favorite teacher? Why do you think they were so good? Are you a good teacher? You can leave a comment on our website at You can also find us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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The writer of this program was Dan Christmann. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. This program is called: How to Be a Good Teacher.

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Visit our website to download our free official app for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.


What do you think makes a good teacher? Are you a good teacher?

Join the discussion

  • In my opinion the interest in the studying learning makes a good teacher. I am a teacher and I for me the evaluation is just a method to know whether the student learns. If they do not approve I tray to refresh de class and repeat the evaluation until de class learn which I learned.
    I don’t know if I am a good teacher but I’m trying.

  • I am a teacher and I am so sorry to tell that I use traditional way in learning one side as my students are listener and I fill out their minds with information despite that I use an interesting way in teaching, give them constructive criticism in private way, I keep in my mind their differences and I am very kind with them. I will try to improve my teaching skill by make them sharing their ideas

  • i teache my friends about technologies subjects. I don’t know if i’m a good teacher but i come to understand something with this program “How to Be a Good Teacher”.
    this program will help me and will change my way to teach certainly.

    Thank for this program

  • Hello! My name is Minh Nguyen, and I am 9 years old. I was homeschooled and my favorite teacher is my dad. I think he was a good teacher because he was patient and kind.

  • I am Ivz. I have been teaching for 7 years, but most of my involvement is in the online ESL teaching. It is quite different from classroom setup. It takes those principles as well to be a good online teacher.

  • In my opinion to be a good teacher you have to be kindly with the students. You need to let your students to be interacting with you and not only listening to you. Also, you have to let your adult to not be afraid of asking questions. However, you have to control the class and do not let any body shout or disrupt your class.

  • In my opinion the good teacher that who Leeds student know how to thinking solve problems, no learn who to memorize the lesson

  • About my idea the good teacher who can understand his students how they can accept the new information and explain it in very different way.
    Thank you spotlight…

  • I think the most important thing in teaching is constructive criticism…that is improve and support students very well

  • I’m a student for now and all my years study on, I just have one favorite teacher , and I respect her too much for a lot of reasons among these reasons I have a big big reason wich is that she made me love English and see it easy , information about me , that I really hate English before and I really saw it difficult but, now it’s my favorite subject.
    THXX teacher if u read this , too much love

  • This is a good article , it’s hard to become a good teachers. The students need more knowledge in the life, in the books is not enough for us.

  • The first thinks to make a good teacher is to be honest ,good man, leader and give a good suggestions to people.
    Yes i am a good teacher but this is not my opinion this the opinion from my closet friends to all my relative.

  • I really like this topic of The Spotlight program , thank you so much Spotlight program as my teacher. Each topic will teaches me a lot of knowledge which I even have no known before , thank you so much. Love love love (^_^)

  • My best teacher was Mr. Hassan, English teacher. He taught me lots of morals and honorable values in real life situations. He shew respect and understanding for all of us especially the ones who had hard financial issues. He made me love the English as a subject with his kind hearted attitudes. He never cared about money, he cared more about us. Now I’m English teacher for special needs students. And I’m proudly following his footprints ! My his soul rest in peace.

  • I think a good teacher it help and understand students and she controls her nervousness and she dosen’t worry on students when They do not solve their meals because they may have special circumstances such as illness or family problems. Moreover, she provide a new methods And new ways of learning so that they do not feel bored and hate studying. Giving them their right to exam grades without oppressing them, because this action is one of the reasons why students hate their teachers.

  • Well, I don’t know. I think I’m a good teacher and a bad teacher at the same time because when I try to explain things to my classmates I’m good and they understand exercise better or whatever the problem is. But when I work with my younger brothers I feel it’s hard to make them understand things. Of course they understand what I told them, but I don’t feel like I share the information as it should be.

  • I’m not a teacher.but I am a student of learning from teacher. Today,teachers teach to students differently not the same in the past. They give ways how to think and study a subject. And they also teach how to solve with different ways a problem. That ways make to improve our knowledge. They also know how to teach, what things can be motivate of students. They are the best in understanding of students’ problems.

  • About the question what do you think makes a good teacher? I think the things makes good teacher is the teaches must have interesting about it. Each students will have different type of person they are and the teachers have to understanding them. Explore which things is the best things in their? and encourage them when them get good results.

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