Joy and knowledge

Guest Post: What makes great teaching? A student perspective

This is a blog written by my current work experience student, Ellie Townsend. It is her first blog. Please read, share and comment! @ellietwnsnd



As a student, I think that the most important element in great teaching is a good relationship between student and teacher.

First impressions are key in forming a good relationship between student and teacher, and from the moment you meet a teacher a certain level of respect must be clear. A teacher must make their authority known; no student will respect or listen to a teacher if they think they can walk all over them.


Expectations of the students from the teacher play a big part in good teaching. If the teacher is expecting us students to behave badly, why would we do any different? We haven’t got anything to prove. For example, if a teacher was to say ‘if you do this, I am going to do this…’ it is natural, as a curious teenager to want to challenge that and see if the teacher will follow up on their actions. Instead, effective learning and good behaviour comes from a teacher expecting and encouraging that, and motivating the students to behave well with a positive environment.


I learn best when I am being actively motivated by my teacher. When a teacher is too relaxed it comes across as they can’t be bothered, and if they can’t be, then why should I? I want to feel like my work is appreciated through praise, when I have worked hard and produced a high standard of work, a simple ‘well done’ means a lot. When a teacher gives too much praise however, it works the opposite way. Getting praised just for doing what should be expected of you is boring and feels patronising, like the teacher thinks you’re incapable of doing basic tasks. It just makes me think, if I’m getting praised for doing bare minimum then why do I need to do anything more than that? This is why the correct level of praise is important, not too little that the students feel unappreciated, not too much that they feel like they don’t need to work hard, just enough to motivate them to work hard and make them feel their work is important and has made a contribution to the lesson. It’s important as a student to feel like your work matters, and also to be reminded of the qualifications you will be rewarded with at the end of the course, and how they contribute to your future. Otherwise, I find myself asking: Why am I even doing this? I know that myself and many people my age feel lost and as though there is no end goal to their work, so what’s the point in doing it if I don’t feel like I’m getting anything out of it? 

In the classroom, a little bit of praise and respect goes a long way.

Finding a path

I made the decision to leave my college course and enter the workplace as an apprentice because I believe that the motivation a job can provide will help to set me on my future path. Of course, money has also been a big part of my decision!

My writing commitment: I’m learning to honour my thoughts. I’m learning that my words can be shared before I’ve connected all the dots or learned everything there is to know. My writing can be a snapshot of a single moment in continually-evolving time.

4 Responses

  1. Hi Ellie and Hannah – thank you for sharing this. It’s refreshing to get your perspective Ellie. I’m wondering….if I can use your blog….?

    I am in the middle of designing CPD for teacher trainees and would love to use your blog as a way of teacher-trainees critically examining theoretical arguments and research on providing effective feedback, managing behaviour and setting motivating goals. Your blog is a great way of bringing this alive. And I look forwar dto reading more. Joss

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