How to Be an Excellent Teacher

Teaching is the most wonderful, exciting and rewarding job in the world, but it takes time, skill and dedication to do it right. Here are a few basics designed to guide new entrants to the profession...


  1. Image titled Be an Excellent Teacher Step 1
    Plan your lessons carefully. Start with what you want them to learn, not what you want them to do. Lessons should always have a central learning objective, and any activities you plan should be focused on achieving this aim. So start with, "I want the children to learn that..." and then decide what they will do.
  2. Image titled Enjoy Your Job Step 18
    Plan for a variety of learning styles. One simple way to think about this is VAK. You can (very crudely) divide learning styles into three parts: Visual learners who learn by seeing, auditory learners who learn by listening, and kinesthetic learners who make associations by doing something. Have something for everyone in your lesson.
  3. Image titled Be an Excellent Teacher Step 3
    Create a sense of order. Decide upon classroom routines and stick to them. Do you want children to line up outside or come straight in to your classroom? Where should their bags and coats go? Do you want them to stand behind their chairs before they leave? Once you have established the routine, stick to it! Children appreciate this more than you think - especially children with special needs. Autistic children, blind children, children with behavioral challenges, et cetera, will all do better if they know what is supposed to happen.
  4. Image titled Spin Bad News Step 4
    Use a starter task. Get pupils used to the idea that there will be a 5 minute task for them to do straight away when they come in to your classroom. Make it fun and stimulating, with a time limit to not let it drag on.
  5. Image titled Be an Excellent Teacher Step 5
    Share your learning objectives with your pupils. They must be very clear about what you want them to learn. Write the learning objective on the board in child friendly language. Refer to it throughout the lesson and return to it at the end. Learning objectives should be framed in language like: "Our Learning objective is to... discover how, explore, learn, revise, reflect on, think about, discuss, develop..."
  6. Image titled Be an Excellent Teacher Step 6
    Give clear success criteria for tasks. Children want to know exactly what you want them to do, and how they will be assessed! Ideally the success criteria should rise from the learning objectives in the lessons building up to the task - that way there are no surprises. The children should actually be able to work out what the success criteria are! Sometimes it is appropriate to let students nominate their own success criteria.
  7. Image titled Be an Excellent Teacher Step 7
    Use a variety of assessment methods - teacher assessment is great, but don't neglect peer and self-assessment.
  8. Image titled Be an Excellent Teacher Step 8
    Give the lesson pace - motivate pupils and move them on. Put time limits on activities and watch for the "fidget factor". If your pupils are bored, change the activity type. Switch between learning styles to keep everyone on their toes! Remember that kids like to be challenged - they don't want to be patronized with easy stuff - give them something to get their teeth into.
  9. Image titled Communicate Effectively in a Job Interview Step 2
    Praise, praise, praise! Tell the children what they are doing right - praise them for it and try your best to minimize the attention you give to unwanted behaviour. Kids like to know when they are doing what you want.
  10. Image titled Be an Excellent Teacher Step 10
    Ask pupils what they have learned at the end, and listen to them.


  • Deal with unwanted behaviour swiftly and decisively, but fairly. Follow your department and school policy to the letter.
  • Always have a plan B.
  • Never make a threat you are not prepared to carry out.
  • A good teacher reaches 80% of the class each lesson. A great teacher reaches a different 80% each lesson.
  • Never say please to your students if they're under the age of twelve and not very mature. Say, "(Your command here), thank you." and continue with the lesson.


  • Teaching is stressful. From time to time you will feel like screaming. Do scream at home, not in front of the children - remember that YOU are the adult!

Article Info

Categories: Teaching