I learn best when my teacher…

When I asked my Year 9/10 Pastoral Care class what were three things that their teachers did to support their learning I was suprised there was not a more diverse range of responses. Student responses fell overwhelmingly into just 3 categories.

NB – I did not provide them with any examples of what they could write. They were asked to write three responses to the statement “I learn best when my teacher…”.

Category 1 – Task explanations and support

By far the biggest group of responses. Students want clear task explanations, examples to refer to and support in their learning. Maybe not surprising but certainly an overwhelming indication that we need to understand very clearly what we want students to learn and how we are going to support them to do this. To be effective in this area it also important that we can explain concepts in a number of ways to help improve student understanding. Presenting a key concept in a variety of formats for example, video, class discussion and think pair share is more effective than presenting in a single format like an isolated Power Point presentation.

I learn best when the teacher…

  • gives me an example of what to do.
  • explains the task clearly.
  • offers help.
  • explains the task in a way I can understand.
  • provides me with an assessment rubric.
  • explains things properly and does not hand us the task and expects us to know everything.
  • gives me a task sheet and example.
  • explains what I have to do.
  • is helping me.
  • explains the task in depth and gives sufficient help.
  • clearly explains and demonstrates what we have to do.
  • helps me when I am in need.
  • says things in my language, sometimes I don’t understand the way they explain it.
  • explains the task well.
  • makes sure we understand what we are doing.
  • explains and go’s through the task thoroughly.
  • helps us out with what we are doing.
  • gives me a task sheet or an example of what to do.
  • explains really well what the task is what we are learning and what all the requirements and expectations are.
  • gives me an example to refer back to so if I get stuck I can look back at it and remind myself what I have to do.
  • helps me when I am in need.


Category 2 –  Too much teacher talk

The second biggest response centred around teachers talking for too much of the lesson. While clear explanations of tasks are important students obviously feel that at a certain point they just want to get on with it. Despite our good intentions talking for too much of a lesson is likely to lead to students tuning out. Click here for an interesting article about teacher talk time.

I learn best when the teacher…

  • doesn’t talk for half the lesson.
  • doesn’t talk all of the lesson
  • doesn’t talk all through the lesson
  • doesn’t talk about the same thing every lesson and take up all the class time.
  • only talks for a small part of the lesson.
  • doesn’t talk the whole lesson.
  • doesn’t talk all lesson, about things we already know
  • only talks certain amount of lesson and lets us complete work.
  • doesn’t talk all lesson.


Category 3 – Teacher organisation 

It is not a surprise that organisation is a quality that students recognise in good teaching. When teachers are organised it makes it easier for students to be organised. If we are unsure of our direction and what is happening lesson by lesson how are we to expect our students to know what they should be doing at a given point in time.

I learn best when the teacher…

  • is organised, does not forget things and sets a good example for us children.
  • is organised.
  • is organised and doesn’t forget things because it becomes annoying if you’re always organised and they are not.
  • is organised for the lesson.


Category 4 – Other

These are things students wrote that didn’t fit into the above three categories. The “not looking over my shoulder” comments are interesting and were mentioned by three different students. It is a fine line between helping a student and constantly invading their personal space making them feel uncomfortable.

I work best when the teacher…

  • doesn’t look over my shoulder.
  • doesn’t constantly look over my shoulder.
  • work best when the teacher doesn’t look over my shoulder.
  • keeps me on task.
  • listens to me.
  • lets you work at your at your own pace.
  • enjoys what we’re learning about too.

Now that I know this information I intend to make a small survey for my 9/10 students to seek their feedback about how I perform in these areas.


2 thoughts on “I learn best when my teacher…

  1. Really interesting Nic. Great to see you continually developing your practice through the activation of student feedback. Certainly less teacher talk is a theme loud and clear through out TfEL Compass data. One thought I had when reading these responses is what would the students say if you replaced ‘the teacher’ with ‘I’ ie I learn best when I… and I work best when I… Put these together with you teacher feedback and it provides a great basis for a dialogue, and a shared responsibility with your students, to co-design some learning improvement processes together.
    Always enjoy reading your posts. Keep up the great work!

    • Funny you should say that Brenton. At the same time I did the “I work best when the teacher…” I did a “I work best when I…” I just haven’t posted the data. I was going to go through those responses and post them as well. I hope the information not only helps me in the way I go about teaching these students but also the other teachers who have this group within our school. We have been working on term 1 learning goals and students reflect weekly/fortnightly about those goals through a personal blog which allows me to easily see their comments and for me and other teachers to comment on their posts. The “I learn best when I…” statements were to help support this process.

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