There are many things to understand about teaching when you first begin your career, and even more..
Appreciation from others is always great even when someone loves their job and doesn't need motivation to do it. For example, teachers love teaching and learning although they are used to students despising school. Even so, the things teachers love to hear most are those that tell them they are making a difference somehow. In an often thankless job, it's like a message from out of the blue that says, "keep doing what you're doing."
Teachers don't do what they do to seek validation; they do it because they care. They see the greatness in their learners and desire to witness them realize it. The things teachers love to hear are about their kids breaking learning barriers and creating ideas they can run with. No matter if it's in the moment or years down the road, they tell a teacher their best was enough.
10 Things Teachers Love to Hear from Learners
The following are some things every teacher loves to hear anytime and anywhere. When our learners say them and mean them, the whole day changes. Suddenly, we realize our hard work is paying off in terms of the many hats a teacher wears every day. How do you feel when your students say these things when you're least expecting it?
1. I used to think____, but now I realize____.
This speaks to a shifting of paradigms and a willingness to accept other ideas. Learners are connecting past knowledge and beliefs to new discoveries that challenge and inspire them. Of course, when a mind opens it's more beautiful than anything.
2. I get everything up until ____.
Honesty is always the best policy. Indeed there is nothing more heartbreaking than a learner thinking they can't say what they don't know. This is one of the things teachers love to hear most for two reasons. First, it means the learner is self-aware enough to admit they are stuck and need help. Second, it means you've provided an environment in which they feel safe enough to do so.
3. A better question would be____.
All learning begins with a question, and if learners can fashion better and better questions, then they should. Asking questions that are more essential is easier than you think, and here are six simple ways to do it.
4. Can I talk to you about something?
Of all the things teachers love to hear, this can often be the scariest. It can either mean a discussion about learning or something much more personal. How you choose to approach whatever comes after these words is up to you. Nevertheless, rejoice in the knowledge that the student trusts you enough to feel they can confide in you.
5. I want to find out more about this.
It's beyond encouraging when a learner says this. After all, interest always precedes meaningful learning. So if a learner wants to dive deeper into a topic, do everything in your power to help them.
6. I'm so glad you taught me that.
This is the ultimate antithesis to the question, "Why do I need to learn this?" When someone finds value in learning either in the moment or later on, their view of learning changes altogether. Suddenly they realize why they put the work in and why it matters. There is nothing more validating to a learner's efforts than when learning becomes useful to them. And remember, you helped them get there.
7. I love this class.
Seriously, what teacher wouldn't want to hear this? If students are enjoying your class, you're doing something right. Engagement, focus, relevance, and a desire to learn—these are things teachers love to hear about their students experiencing.
8. Let me give this a try.
We can facilitate learning as we should, but at some point we will step aside and let the learners take the lead. True enough, they may stumble and fall and not succeed. In that case, you're in the best position to provide constructive feedback as well as promote useful failure. That's how we get our learners to want to keep trying.
9. I can relate/connect to this.
In order for learning to be meaningful and effective, it must have relevance to who we're teaching. Whether it's relevant to us or not makes no difference, so when we hear this we should be very excited. Ultimately, this is the goal of our instruction—to help learners connect topics to prior knowledge they already find intriguing.
10. Thank you.
This is one of those things teachers love to hear but never hear enough. Even when you don't hear it, never believe you're not making a difference as a teacher. When you do, just smile and nod and say, "you're very welcome." Then, continue on knowing you did your job well and somebody noticed when you thought they didn't.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Nov 8, 2018, updated Dec 17, 2021