top of page

What Students Really Want From Teachers!

Robert John Meehan once said, “Each child has a different learning style and pace. Each child is unique, not only capable of learning but also capable of succeeding”.

Each child is a unique individual, with special intellectual, social, emotional and physical abilities as well as curiosity and creativity waiting to be bestowed.

Reflecting on my many years I have spent in the field of education particularly in early childhood education, I have come to appreciate the uniqueness, the differences and the experiences children bring into the classrooms-some have leveled the field of teaching, some challenged our existence, yet some have taught us many lessons that we could not teach them.

In all accounts, children are our teachers for we may not teach them enough as we may learn from them and a lot about ourselves! Nevertheless, when teachers express their love, their interests, and their involvement in each student’s development and meaningful learning, they make it possible for “all students” and the “whole student” to grow and learn.

And so, in talking to some students from various backgrounds-local, national, and international students, here are what students really want from their teachers!!!

1.Respect and Understanding

“The deepest hunger of the human heart is to be understood, for understanding implicitly affirms, validates, recognizes and appreciates the intrinsic worth of another”. ~ Stephen Covey

Apparently, respect and understanding are paramount of all! Many students feel that teachers don’t respect and understand them enough to value them-i.e. whether they exist in the classrooms, let alone their learning needs!

One student said that he finished a grade level without being singled out to speak in one classroom, not even answered a question, as he never got picked when he raised his hand as others!

“Seek first to understand…then to be understood”.

Like teachers, students need to be respected. As we teach children to respect adults we owe children respect too, no matter how young the children may be!

Teachers show respect to a student when he/she interact with a student in a positive manner that leads the student to enjoy being with the teacher and take interests in the teacher’s teachings.

Another concern that was revealed among many students is the yelling (get out of my classroom now…) and name calling (you are damn and lazy, you will never make it to college…). It's neither cool nor okay for teachers to lose their temper in the classroom!

When a teacher yells at a student for any reason it can have a serious effect on student’s social-emotional development. Teachers will always remain the ones to create the emotional climate for learning.

It is the teacher’s role to save the face and preserve students’ dignity. Teachers should instead emphasize mutual respect and understanding, encourage teamwork, cooperation, independence and group harmony; and to assist students in developing self-discipline, sensitivity in their interactions with each other; and recognize that children come from all sizes, colors, shapes, and cultural backgrounds, and that no one-size fits all when it comes to teaching and learning.

2. Be Responsive and Accommodative

Even though their attitudes may be stronger than your intentions, try to be fair to all children-the weak, the meek, and the runny-nosed; don’t forget the bullies and the smart guys they too need sympathy and guidance!

Students want teachers to be fair in their practice-to respond and accommodate each student, to treat each student fairly, to judge them for who they are, and how they perceive you, yet teach them effectively!

Whether you chose teaching or teaching chose you, the number one requirement of the teachers is your strength to respond and accommodate all children’s needs. Don’t like and favor the five assertive children and dislike or ignore the fifteen passives, low self-esteem, and or lack of confidence students; accommodate them as well!

Students feel that teachers focus more and pay more attention to the smart and well-connected children. They are the ones who are given every opportunity, from answering questions in the classrooms, to, to be the first one to be picked or listed for every event in their classrooms and or in school in general!

Children thrive well in an environment that values them and their existence, respond to their needs and accommodate their interests in the process of learning.

3. Be Attentive and Active Listener

Before you judge think before you speak listen!

Students also complained that teachers are quick to blame and rush into conclusions before they know the real situation behind the student’s behavior. Either student feel that they are not given chance to tell their side of the story because the teacher already made up their mind about that student no matter the circumstances!

Some students get away with many misbehaviors while others are reprimanded all the times and on very minor misbehaviors because teachers seized not to be attentive and active listeners.

Some students received undivided attention from teachers and others don’t.

Some students have their voices heard, yet others are given deaf ears and blind eyes. A student may not speak in the classrooms but it is the teacher’s responsibility to talk to the student and to listen even to the unspoken voices from some student.

Many students asserted that they would like their teachers to talk to them, to ask them questions and not be disappointed with them when they fail to give the correct answers; ask them to share their comments, opinions, and suggestions…their participation and contribution in the classrooms matter!

No stupid question is stupid enough to hurt someone, and anyone who asks a question is because they want to know! If a student did not answer the question it’s not because he is a dum-dum, sometimes he rather answers that question in private…one-on-one!

The best thing teachers can do to help children express themselves freely is to acknowledge and validate their presence and feelings.

A pupil feels validated when teachers care enough to listen. The simple act of active listening and showing that you care about their presence and feelings, help students develop self-esteem and confidence which are the important factors in the student’s mental and emotional well-being.

Validating a student’s presence and feelings help him/her get a sense of reality…He is upset and you are aware of it! You acknowledge it, “I see, and hear you! You want a turn or didn’t give a correct answer, we will work this through together, let’s try something else, etc.

When teacher offer unconditional support, in addition, reassurance, alternatives, and or more useful ways of looking at the situation, it can transform a negative feeling to a positive feeling; a nonresponsive student to a responsive student; from withdrawn student to an engaging student; and a struggling with learning student to a thriving in learning student.

4. Give and Teach True Freedom

Since children have different learning needs, interests, styles, and pace, helping them learn comfortably and without fear of their teachers’ responses or that of their peers is what students want! Freedom of learning according to individual student’s needs and abilities. That means individualized learning and individualized instructional delivery.

Individualized learning, or individualized instruction, is a method of teaching in which content, instructional technology, and pace of learning are based upon the abilities and interests of each learner.

More projects-based learning and student-initiated learning activities, where students focus on their own learning interests while they discover their talents and abilities, and allowing them to advance at their own pace.

Though it may seem that meeting the needs of individual student conflicts with meeting the needs of the group, it is the teachers’ obligation to provide both needs successfully whenever possible.

There can be no true freedom of learning if the learning process does not encompass the needs of the whole child.

5. Encourage and Motivate

“Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn”. ~ Benjamin Franklin

Students acknowledge that taking the ownership and oversee their learning is their number one requirement as learners. However, while most of the students may do schoolwork and homework without a lot of follow-ups, others need a lot of follow-ups!

Thus, while Josh is a go-getter and always active and excited about learning, Alex is a lay-back and passive learner who needs the motivation to beat his zone of proximal development.

Some students raised their hands all the time, and have something to say about in almost every subject, others don’t raise their hands and or say anything at all the times and in every subject- they don’t believe in themselves and or have fallen into not trusting their teachers! They need encouragement to find their way and motivation to unlock their learning potential.

Students want to hear that they can do it, teachers believe in them and the effort they are trying so hard to put into their learning is valued and acknowledged positively; help them to discover their purpose-nurture their curiosity, creativity and their unique abilities to learn they possess.

Encourage them to speak out and share their ideas, beliefs, and opinions even if they are not popular or correct, for you will never know what student know or don’t know unless you encourage them and give them chances and choices to participate in discussions. Give positive feedback, encourage student’s efforts and recognize his or her limitations too, and praise when the goals and expectations are met!

It is teacher’s responsibility to not only appreciate the vulnerability of children and their dependence on their teachers in facilitating their learning, but also, they are defenseless…demonstrate caring and kindness while sharing responsibilities to ease the student’s anxiety, stress, and or strong emotions related to lack of encouragement and motivation in their learning process.

6. No One-Size Fits All: Recognize and Appreciate Diversity

We are not the same…We are different individuals with different needs and interests…Do not compare, nor force learning…Rather, engage, motivate, and teamwork…Together we can walk miles and pass milestones.

Teachers should diversify their teachings and strategized their instructional delivery and be culturally sensitive and responsive teacher who recognize the importance of including student’s cultural references in all aspects of learning.

In addition, to recognize that children are best understood and supported in the context of family, culture, community, and society.


bottom of page