How great is your teacher?

Great TeachersWell, first of all, it’s important to understand what the features of a great teacher are. Is it behavior? Is it style? Is it leadership? As a teacher, I understand that a great deal of factors can help me during my classes. And these factors are:

 1 – The way I look

In this topic I’m not going to approach fashion. This is a much deeper element. My appearance is very important, but not only if my clothes are clean or not ripped off. I’m talking about the way my eyes look (if they look confident, tired, bored etc.). A bad-looking teacher, who appears to be defeated by life, tired of teaching, bored with the way students are behaving, will certainly have the same effect on her/his students. So if a teacher looks prepared, healthy, joyful and if the pleasure that the teacher feels by teaching is visible, then the class is likely to be a success.

2 – The way I speak

If I speak in the same tone the whole time, if I speak low and slowly the whole time, if I speak quickly or too loud the whole time, students will sleep or feel very agitated. Thus, if teachers feel what they are teaching, the tone of voice will always change. Obviously, there are new subjects (speak loud) and old subjects (relax the voice a little bit). So, the teacher needs to follow this logic and try to create suspense and also understanding during the class.

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3 – The way I lead

It’s not all about classroom leadership, but it’s a good amount of it. Teachers need to be in control. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying students must be scared. I’m saying that the teacher needs to be prepared and know how the class is going to be like. A lost teacher, with no sense of leadership and whatsoever will lead his/her students to failure. A teacher who is always in control is well prepared, has studied the subject to be taught and tries to come up with a scheme that makes things easier for the students to understand.

Among all of the factors above, there are even more subjects we can discuss. But for now, let’s talk about how to measure a good teacher. Is that even possible? Well, technically it isn’t. But practically, we can measure if a teacher is great by the way students come out of the class. If they look bored, tired and uninterested in the subjects previously presented, the teacher is not that good. But if, every time students go home, they think about the next class, wonder what will be the next activities, are curious about doing their homework and are laughing and happy, this is for sure a great teacher.

There are the special cases such as those who are studying because they have to do it. But that is a difficult problem to be solved only by the teacher. Student and teacher must have an honest conversation, talk about their fears, likes, dislikes in the classroom. If the teacher clears things up with the student, probably this student is going to consider changing the course or, finally, he or she is going to work harder and start appreciating the classroom environment.

To sum it up, great teachers love their jobs and do it happily. For them, it is not difficult to wake up early, to be friends with students, to talk about politics (because we DO have an important political role in the classroom) or to be open to talk about different issues with their students.

Now tell me, do you remember the most amazing teacher you have ever had? How was the class? What was different about this teacher? In your opinion, what makes great teachers great?

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Here are some video suggestions about this topic:

Sobre a Autora: Flávia Fernandes atua em Curitiba, com os serviços de teaching, coaching e consulting. Autodidata, estuda inglês desde os 12 anos. Mesmo formada em Design, achou no ensino uma paixão. Hoje, tem sua escola e seu método: Make it Easier (


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Mostrar 14 comentários

  • 12/03/13  
    Feliphe diz: 1

    Hi Flavia, I’d like to thank you and give you a congratulations for this amazing post.
    Every teacher should see this, think about it and if they don’t already be one of those great teachers, they must try to be.
    Specially in our country, where the basic education is very poor, we have to be a wonderful teachers to make our students become more confident, more enthusiastic about going to school and curious to studying certain kind of subjects.

    I’m self taught of English, so I’m sorry for my wrongs above. rss

    All the best!

    • 13/03/13  
      Flavia diz:

      Hi Felipe! You’re right on the fact that basic education in our country is a disaster! I hope all teachers read the article as well, and most important of all: no matter what job you choose, choose one you really like!!! I guess people don’t really think about that… We see clearly a lack of passion in most professionals, teachers, doctors, etc.
      Thanks for commmenting and congratulations on your English!

  • 12/03/13  
    Henry Cunha diz: 2

    Flávia’s knowledgeable advice reminded me of a very funny and interesting talk given at TED Talks, entitled “Itay Talgam: Lead like the great conductors”. Talgam’s talk about how several well-known maestros conduct an orchestra also teaches a lot about leadership in the classroom. See it at

    • 13/03/13  
      Flavia diz:

      Thanks, deaR! I’ll take a look at it!!
      Thanks for commenting!

  • 12/03/13  
    Paulo diz: 3

    What makes a great teacher is the salary he or she deserves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • 13/03/13  
      Flavia diz:

      I’s have to disagree with you, some of my greatest teachers were underpaid! :)
      It’s not all about money..

      But thanks for commenting anyway!!

  • 12/03/13  
    Wagner diz: 4

    Well… I had a english teacher when I was young, about sixteen, and she was so dedicated with students. She was the reason why I like so much about learn about other languages, about different cultures… So today I’m glad to have known someone so special. Even she don’t read this, thank you Kamila Fagundes.

    • 13/03/13  
      Flavia diz:

      Wow Wagner, that’s sweet of you.. I still remember my good teachers too!!
      Thanks for commenting!!

  • 12/03/13  
    Marlon diz: 5

    When I was in 8th grade I had this english teacher called Tânia, she was a great teacher, she was of the reasons why I fell in love with english.

  • 12/03/13  
    DanielPetris diz: 6

    Olá , eu gostaria de saber se estudar Inglês Americano e Inglês Britânico , ao mesmo tempo , pode me confundir em alguns momentos , pelo fato de mudar algumas coisas como pronúncia , por mais que não tenha muitas mudanças , se o que mudar eu posso acabar me frustrando , se alguem puder me responder , agradeço desde já.

    • 12/03/13  
      Alessandro Brandão diz:

      Oi Daniel,

      Esse tema já foi abordado várias vezes aqui no site. Por favor, utilize a busca.

      Bons estudos!

  • 12/03/13  
    Kassio diz: 7

    I guess the best english teacher I already had was when I was in first year in high school, her classes were so cool, so wonderful that it was easy-breezy to me. She used to get inside my head, she has another different way to teach us, she is very smart.. And it is what makes she an amazing teacher! Thank you so much teacher Juliana from Renee Menezes School Sinop MT.

    • 13/03/13  
      Flavia diz:

      That’s very sweet of you!!! Thanks for commenting!!!

  • 29/03/13  
    Junior Lucas diz: 8

    I agree I also think that what make great teachers great is dedication, effot, but mainly the way through wich they give classes, I mean I have ever had great teachers, actually I still have, and What I can realize they have in commom is the way they give theirs classes, the way that they engage the students, and make them part of the feeling who motivated them someday in theirs lifes, making the students like e acquire taste for the subjects and to make them understand the need and the diferrence it makes, they way that they make studying part of the reality of the students, engagement I think would be a key element