Who was your favourite teacher and why? – Survey results

When I ask students and people about their favourite subject at school and why, it is usually the teacher that is the reason.

“A great teacher can make even the most difficult subjects enjoyable, especially if they are fun and use innovative ways of teaching.”

During my school years, I found mathematics very challenging. I would even go as far as saying I hated maths. However, in Year 9 I met Mrs Grabowski and she helped me achieve my very first and only ever ‘A’ in Math. It was her patience and the kind way she would casually wander over when she could see I was struggling. She showed me different ways to do the math problem until I understood and that’s what made the difference.

I recently asked you, who your favourite teacher was and why. The results were as I suspected.

It wasn’t the subject they taught, but the teacher and the way they taught it, that you talked about.

Many of the responders talked about how teachers connected with them as individuals, helping them, even if they found the subject difficult. Even the stricter teachers were spoken of fondly if they helped students achieve their best.

“A student’s favourite teacher is often the teacher who sees the student as an individual, looking past learning difficulties and making personal connections to help them to achieve their best.”

A great teacher can influence a student’s success in their school grades or a particular subject, year to year. Mrs Grabowski helped me achieve an ‘A’ in maths in Year 9, however the following year with a different teacher, my grades dived again. In Year 11 when all seemed hopeless, I was moved out of Math halfway through the year and into Art, a subject I loved and did very well at.

While some of your favourite teachers were strict and set their expectations high, they also encouraged your curiosity, were patient and happy to repeat information when you didn’t understand it. Other teachers found fun and interesting ways to teach the same information until you had it into your long term memories.

One teacher found an interesting way to help a student understand spatial awareness by bringing in rods and connectors so the student could construct a 3D cube to understand 3D trigonometry. This helped not only one student, but also other students in the class, as they took turns to sit inside the cube so they could see the Math from a different perspective.

“All students can benefit from alternative multisensory teaching strategies, even when teachers are targeting just one student.”

Some of you also had teachers who found interesting ways to teach writing using overseas pen pals or getting you to talk about topics you loved like computers or video games.

It appears that the ability to develop a relationship with a teacher made it easier to understand them and perhaps easier for them to understand and support you.

“A great teacher will find ways to connect with all their students and see them as individuals regardless of their learning differences or difficulties.”

It is these teachers that students are likely to remember fondly.

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