Pupils 'remember risk-taking teachers'

The most inspirational teachers are those who take risks, offer encouragement and share their passions, research shows

Roger Baird

Students are most likely to remember teachers who take risks, research suggests

Pupils remember their most inspirational teachers for their character, rather than how well they taught their subjects, new research suggests.

Students said the teachers who made the biggest impression on them were those who were “encouraging”, “risk-taking” and “shared their wider passion about the world”.

Teachers with these characteristics were “remembered for the kinds of people they were more than the subject knowledge that they taught them,” according to University of Sunderland lecturer Kate Duffy.

Duffy, along with fellow lecturer Dionne Ross, said these qualities were repeatedly mentioned when they interviewed 53 educational studies undergraduates at the University of Sunderland about what makes a great teacher.

Pupils 'respect risk-taking teachers'

“Risk-taking in a teacher might come when they see that a class does not get a particular subject, and the teacher changes or adapts the lesson plan to make things clearer,” said Duffy.

She added: “Students said they could tell when something said in class changed the direction of a lesson and that was exciting. However, in the current climate of educational targets and time pressure, it is hard for teachers to go off the curriculum, but it is important that teachers bear this in mind.”

They also said that another quality great teachers reportedly had was the ability to show how their subject related to the wider world. For example, how a particular maths formula helped to make planes fly.

Students also admired a teacher who would take them through a particular problem that they did not understand at the end of a class.

Ms Duffy and Ms Ross presented their paper at the British Educational Research Association annual conference in Newcastle this month.

Earlier this month, a survey by YouGov suggested that kindness was the single most important quality that schoolchildren wanted in a teacher.


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Roger Baird

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