What Adult ESL Students Want in a Teacher-Part 2

Today I polled my advanced adult ESL students as to what characteristic(s) they thought good teachers possessed.  The results are published on the following website:


By far the majority of the comments centered on the personality of the teacher rather than on the teacher’s knowledge of the content or teaching strategies.  The students look for patience, kindness (“a kind heart”),  fairness, encouragement, enthusiasm, good humor,  someone who is a good listener and can be trusted with confidential information.

As for pedagogy, according to my students, a good teacher is innovative and knows how to teach while not making the students too anxious,  teaches clearly so students can understand, controls and challenges the class, is not boring, and is passionate about her subject and capable of teaching all the students  (“thinks about how to teach this student and another person”).  A good teacher imparts as much knowledge as possible including new vocabulary and information about the American culture.

This is valuable information for reflecting on myself as a teacher of adult English language learners and for examining my interactions with my students both inside the classroom and out.  While I expected more criteria from the students regarding a teacher’s daily classroom habits, I am not at all surprised or disappointed that they focused more on their teachers’  gentleness of spirit.

I will poll the students again at the end of the semester to see if/how their assessment of “good-teacher” characteristics changes, and I will ask the students to anonymously evaluate me and my teaching performance on those essential qualities my students value in a teacher.

You might also be interested in reading 10 Characteristics of Highly
Effective Teachers by Tamas Lorincz (@tamaslorincz).

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