What makes good teaching? The four F’s of what makes a great teacher

Research by Dr Peter Downes for the Secondary Heads Association found that four qualities made for the best teacher. In order of importantance:

  • They need to be Friendly
  • They need to be Focused
  • They need to be Fun
  • They need to be Firm

Just  Some pointers

  • To maintain an optimal relationship you need to have a 5:1 ratio in compliments versus criticism. Beware: if you get to a ratio of more than 13 compliments per point of criticism, you will lose credibility. If you have less, there will be more tension. (for more information about this, check out the book ‘Flourishing’, by Martin Seligman
  • greet them at the door, each student individually. According to studies in classrooms where the teacher greeted the students at the door, there was an increase in student engagement from 45 percent to 72 percent.
  • Start with a ‘primer‘, get them in the right state by doing a short exercise, such as a visualization technique, to ‘prime’ them for ‘success’, in the right state to make an effort
  • don’t hide behind titles (pan professor, vykanie…), don’t be afraid of some familiarity IF you feel comfortable with this style, otherwise you’ll come across as fake, be warm, but firm. Do remember that they WANT you to be your teacher and actually yearn for some rules and some clear boundaries, they want you to be ‘one of the boys’. Just like you wouldn’t your father to be your buddy, you want your father to be your father.
  • take youth culture seriously and – to some degree- integrate it in your lessons, it’s rapidly evolving, so be open to hear about the latest trends
  • try to incorporate some physical activities in the lesson, especially when teaching boys
  • put in lots of humor, you can also put some humor in exercises and tests, make it playful
  • invent cool, confidence boosting nicknames for some students, if they don’t mind and if it suits them (‘Viking’, ‘La Vida Loca’, ‘Giant’, ‘Wizzard’, etc). Personalize the exercises. Make them the main characters of exercises.
  • hold short contests like ‘last man standing’. Have them all stand up and do a vocabulary marathon for example, if a student doesn’t know the answer he takes a seat, the last one standing wins the contest
  • always make them feel respected. Praise the ones who are performing well, rather than criticize those who are underperforming
  • ‘by misbehaving, boys and young men are showing their need to be engaged, valued and disciplined by strong, loving male figures’ (From ‘Manhood’, by Steve Biddulph, p. 181) See it as cry for love and react accordingly, but be firm as well.
  • send very problematic, attention seeking boys to be dealt with – face to face- by a male teacher. This behavior usually results from not having a strong father figure at home. Women teachers should not have to struggle continually with boys who need something they cannot provide. Caring but strong mentors should be provided for troubled boys. Boys also benefit if there’s a male headmaster that they can easily approach, if there are no hurdles to overcome to get in touch with him and if he genuinly cares about their concerns
  • The more the topic has to do with real life, the deeper it is explored, the more students pay attention
  • As Simon Simek always says: start with the WHY. Make sure you know WHY your students need to know something
  • They are teenagers but they are NOT stupid and they want to know what goes in the world, they do not like it when information is sugar-coated and when information is unneccesarily made easier just because they are younger. They’re past the age of fairy tales, they can handle it.
  • You can put an inspirational quote at the bottom of tests, and/or a cartoon like Calvin & Hobbes, you can put lots of inspirational quotes on the walls of your classrooms, you can mix ‘classic’ celebrities with current celebrities that they know and look up to
  • ‘Boys learn best from a man who is definitely in charge, but not mean or competitive, who is positive and well organized. They will not learn unless they feel the teacher likes them‘ (From the book ‘Manhood‘)
  • There’s a significant drop in performance if students have their phones on their desk, even if they don’t use it or touch it. According to research people perform 20 percent worse when they perform mental tasks if their phone is in front of them, even if they don’t check it. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/glue/201501/is-your-smartphone-making-you-dumb


The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ― William Arthur Ward