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Kids Talk About: What Makes a Great Teacher

What makes a great teacher?

We asked more than 9,000 kids and teens, and here are the top three answers:

  1. The teacher explains things well and makes the subject interesting. (33%)
  2. The teacher is funny and has a lot of personality. (25%)
  3. The teacher is interested in what students have to say. (9%)

Other answers rated high, depending on the age of the student. About 3,000 teens took the poll and 13% said they appreciate teachers who go beyond the classroom and help with stuff other than classwork, like career planning.

About 6,000 younger kids took the poll and 25% said they like a teacher who's patient, understanding, and willing to answer questions. Charlotte said her favorite teacher is known as "Mrs. Frog" because she does a good frog impression. And Mrs. Frog is very encouraging. "She always gives you 'Good Job' notes when you do something that impresses her," Charlotte said.

Chayna loved the way her 5th grade teacher joked all the time. And he knew when to look the other way. "When my friend and I were passing notes, he looked at me but the thing is he IGNORED us passing notes!!"

The poll also gave teachers a say, asking "What Makes a Great Student?" About 3,600 teachers said these were the top qualities in kids and teens:

  1. The student is willing to try his/her best every day. (26%)
  2. The student is willing to ask questions when he/she doesn't understand. (14%)
  3. The student is polite and respectful to the teacher. (14%)

Do you do those things every day? If not, maybe you should start!

Teachers also praised students who are positive, organized, and kind to other students. Kids may like funny teachers, but do teachers like students with a sense of humor? Only 7% said yes, and they included a condition: They said they like students who are funny, but not disruptive.

Want to create a great relationship with your teacher? Try these tips:

  • Work hard every day by completing homework and participating in class.
  • Ask questions whenever you don't understand something. If you feel shy during class, ask after class or set up a time to meet.
  • Be polite and respectful all the time. That means "please" and "thank you," of course. Also follow class rules such as listening when another student is talking, taking turns, or raising a hand instead of shouting out.

You'll find it easier to be teacher-pleasing and do your best if you're well-fed, well-rested, and organized, so don't forget these back-to-school rules:

Sleep: Get to bed on time. You should feel rested when you wake up.

Breakfast: You'll have more energy and do better in school if you eat a good breakfast.

Cheat sheets: Write down important info so you don't forget locker combinations, class schedules, bus numbers, etc.

Schedule: Use a wall calendar or personal planner to record important dates, such as when assignments are due, tests will be given, extracurricular practices and rehearsals will be held, etc.

Night-before routines: Get organized the night before by setting out everything you need. Homework and books should be put in their backpacks by the door. Pack your lunch and have it in the fridge (or set aside your lunch money). Your whole outfit — shirt, pants, socks, shoes, belt — should be in your bedroom ready to go. Then you can dress and dash. You don't want to be late, especially for the first day of school!

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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