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“The first thing would be the ability to build a strong relationship with each child, get to know exactly what motivates, inspires, and distracts them.

An example, and possibly one of the best bits of teaching I’ve witnessed. was when I was observing a lesson. There was a girl with lots of low-level disruption chatting away and the teacher was able to stop that with a glance here and there, but then about halfway through the lesson she went over to the girl when the rest of the class were doing a group activity and she looked into the girl's eyes said, “You know, Sarah, when I look at you I see a girl with so much potential, you're going to achieve great things but today your choice of behaviour isn't helping either of us - come on let's get on with this!”.

Wait For It

Later, I asked the teacher about this and she said she'd been waiting for about two years to share this intervention because she got to know the girl and she was waiting for exactly the right moment to intervene with the right thing to say and it had a powerful positive impact on their relationship and the performance of the girl.

This is the sort of thing that an OFSTED inspector might not see, just how powerful and how important the build-up to these kinds of interventions are.

It's the strong relationship that's at the core of the enhancement of performance in the child. And time and time again I see that it's more about the relationships and less about the lesson plans themselves that have the most powerful impact.

So, the first and possibly the most important thing building strong relationships - that's the first thing I borrow from the best teachers in the world. 

You Be You

Secondly, I’ve noticed that the best teachers become the best teacher they can be when they apply the best of their own strengths, their own skills, their own personalities and they don't try and directly copy other teachers.

They develop the qualities that they're meant to use to shine in the classroom.

So, researchers such as Martin Seligman have looked through history and looked at what are the qualities that we admire in human beings?

Here are some of the top ones which I would encourage you to think about:

  • Wisdom
  • Curiosity
  • Courage
  • Kindness
  • Hope
  • Fairness
  • Modesty

How would you like the children you teach to remember you? Which of these qualities do you model and how would you like them to remember you?

The more that you develop these, and model these qualities, the better the classroom experience and educational experiences is for everyone.

Look After Yourself

The third thing I’ve noticed about brilliant teachers is that they look after themselves as well as the children.

They teach, they eat, drink and exercise well. They have friends and interests outside of teaching and they don't become consumed only by teaching.

Yes, they're brilliant teachers, but they're also aiming to be brilliant partners, parents, friends, and colleagues.

In my research I’ve witnessed, and I now share, around 30 things that great teachers do and the three I’ve shared with you now are brilliant places to start and they will help you become a better person, as well as a better teacher.

Thank you for listening and hopefully our paths will cross sometime in the future.”

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About the author

David Hodgson

David Hodgson

David is a long-time Independent Thinking Associate who has an amazing grasp of what makes people, young and not so young, tick when it comes to being their best. He is the author of several books including the ever-popular The Buzz.

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