Good Teacher OR Liked TeacherYou must choose one! I have found that sometimes being good at what you do is simply not enough. Students who hate the subject, but like the teacher typically work...

Good Teacher OR Liked Teacher

You must choose one! I have found that sometimes being good at what you do is simply not enough. Students who hate the subject, but like the teacher typically work harder in the class. On the other hand, if a student hates the teacher (for teaching well and being tough) their ability to learn is sometimes negated.

So, what do you think is more important?

Expert Answers
literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I know that many of you posted about not being able to choose. We, as teachers, would like to be both. I must say that I agree with all who have posted thus far...I want to be a good teacher. Though being liked is a bonus!!!

The reason that I raised the question is two part:

First, I hear so many students complaining about not liking teachers. Yes, it would be nice if we could have both, but many times this is just not the way it happens.

Second, I entered into education because of a teacher that I initially hated in high school. It tore me up that he expected so much from us and that he was, by far, the hardest high school teacher I had. BUT, I did learn a lot from him. Here you go...diatomaceous earth (otherwise known as talc). I stunned my college professor by knowing the technical term.

He, Mr. B, was the reason that I fought so hard to become a teacher. He was the one who impacted my life in such a way that the rest of my life would have a path which I was, and am, proud of.

We all want to be Mr. B. in one way or another.


larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am reminded of Machiavell's comment that "it is better to be feared than to be loved." Every teacher wants his/her students to like them; but this is not always going to happen. Students are a work in progress; they have neither the maturity nor the foresight to fully appreciate the importance of their efforts. They respond to grades as a reward or to avoid adverse consequences, but seldom understand the adult ramifications of school.

I have any number of students who like me; then there are those who think that I am the devil incarnate. Ironically, when they are older--usually in college--those who did not like me are the first to email/visit and apologize for the past. Suddenly, it makes sense to them.

If one must choose, one should educate ones students. not curry their favor. Students normally do not like teachers who make them work hard; yet in later years these are the teachers they appreciate most. So given the choice, a teacher should do his/her job and teach.

pacorz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think pohnpei397 missed the boat a little - absolutely rapport with students is key, but that is what makes you a good teacher! If you don't have rapport, then you are not going to get anything across. If you have empathy for students, and you have some decent technique, then you are good. And if you are good, the kids will RESPECT you. The bottom line is that the students are the customers, and they know perfectly well if their needs are being met. If you are meeting their needs they will respect that and most will try to meet you halfway.

I think a lot of teachers, especially the younger ones, are too worried about whether the kids like them or not. Mutual respect for each other as human beings is a solid foundation upon which to build a relationship with anyone, including a student. And building real realtionships is what separates successful teachers who have long satisfying careers from the rest of the pack.


bigdreams1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wow, you have certainly picked a difficult two options. Ideally, of course, it would be great to be (or have if you are a student) both. A good teacher who is well-liked would not only get the attention of the students through fun lessons and a sunny disposition, but he would also impart solid knowledge and deliver much needed skills in his subject area.

But if I had to choose one or the other, I think being a good teacher is the best option. Students won't necessarily like a tough teacher at the time, but if they learn what they need to know to succeed in college and beyond, they will respect and come to like them later on in life (Case in daughter found her high school science teacher very tough, but when she got to college and majored in chemistry...she realized how valuable her lessons were...and now considers the teacher one of her best).

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive! I must admit, however, that as much as it is a benefit to be liked, I have found that even students who I haven't necessary been liked by have appreciated my skills as a teacher. I must admit, if I had to choose between the two, I do think that being a good teacher is much better than being liked. If you just go for being liked, you lose control, respect, and your classes are less productive, as I am sure we have all experienced in our early years of teaching when we get the balance between respect and friendliness very wrong. For me, I go for being a good teacher first, and then, and only then, do I work on being liked.

appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I've had students that loved me and students that hated me (as evidenced by evaluations and other reactions). Very much a one or the other scenario usually (beats indifference or boredom, I guess!)

But I have to say the most interesting and rewarding response is from students who start out "hating " me (because they think I am a tough grader, strict disciplinarian over things like cell phones in class etc.) often end up "liking" me because they end up respecting me, because they realized my "tough" ways helped them learn better and eventually understood that challenging them was a good way of making them learn and think for themselves and become better adults.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm not convinced that a student will work harder for a teacher he or she likes and not so hard for a teacher he or she dislikes. A conscientious student will work hard regardless, and a slacker will slack off regardless. Never fall into the trap of thinking that the students like you so much that they'll do anything for you. One little slight or offense, real or imagined, and the student you think loves you to death will stick a knife in your back (metaphorically, of course).Whether a student tries hard or doesn't try at all in a class depends on that student's motivation, not on how the student feels about the teacher.

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This topic touches close to home for me!  During teacher appreciation week the student council hung signs around the school with quotes from students about their favorite teachers.  I was hard pressed to finally find one about me, yet I have lots of students that I know love my class.  I thought about it long and hard and agree with previous posts that suggest that students appreciate my standards and enjoy the material and discussions -- but it isn't necessary "fun."  I can't change who I am in the classroom with the idea of being popular for the wrong reasons, so I guess I just have to live it.

catd1115 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Great question! The best advice I ever received about being a teacher came from one of my cooperating teachers during my student teaching. He was a young guy with a very successful class and was well liked by the students. Here is what he told me:

They don't have to like you. They have to respect you. They have to learn from you. If you do those two things correctly, then most of them, most of the time will like you. But if you aim for being liked you will not accomplish any of the three.

That was 10 years of classrooms ago and his advice is still right on the money.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm with my colleagues on this one, particularly larrygates. My job is to teach in a way that students are able to learn; discovering friendships with students along the way is an unexpected blessing. Students are able to learn without developing friendships with their teachers; having those friendships in no way guarantees student learning. Anyone who teaches effectively and with passion will develop relationships with students who come to share that passion. I'll take respect over relationship any day, though I do cherish the former students who have also become my friends.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If I have to choose, then I would argue that liked is much more important so long as you are liked for some other reason than just giving out easy grades and never making kids do any work.  I feel that whatever success I have had as a teacher is due largely to my ability to have a rapport with the students.  I think that the old saw "no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care" applies -- students respond much better to teachers who care about them (which, of course, is one of the things that makes some teachers more liked than others).

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many times students will like a teacher because they are good, and certainly no teacher enjoys being disliked.  But if I had to choose, there's no contest, I'd rather be good.  I'd rather they, in 20 years, say "Man, Mr. D. was a total jerk, but I sure did learn a lot" than "Man, Mr. D.'s class was awesome, but I can't remember doing anything in there".

It's hard to remember sometimes, but our legacy is not what students think of us, but how they retain and use what we teach them.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree these ideas are not mutually exclusive. I think I try to be a good teacher who is respected, and sometimes this means liked, but not always. It is vital to be clear, fair and keep a sense of humour, and these are often qualities which students like when they want to learn. Memorable teachers can be recalled for good-or bad reasons. I think that being respected is the value which links being good and being liked.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I agree that if students like the teacher they will often work harder. However I don't think you can't be both liked and good. Yes, there are many instances where a student will like a teacher who does not make him or her work. There are a lot of students who do not like those teachers though, because they know they are being cheated.
shazkittenz | Student
I have seen comments that basically say that the only way to get a student to like you is to not make them do work. In a way I find this comment frustrating. Not all students like teachers who don't make the effort to ensure their students know the content in order to do well in their exams. I personally dislike teachers who waste our time, teach ineffectively or treat us with unnecessary disrespect. Teachers who are passionate, effective and show that they care about my results are the teachers I give my respect to. Without that respect, I teach myself out of the textbook which is second best to having a supportive, but effective teacher in my book. Moral of the story; be a good teacher by all means but to be respected, show you respect us first. :)
cheezea | Student

a good teacher is definitely better :) i agree with #27. i feel that we as students usually like teachers who are more 'fun' who makes them feel less stressed out. however, a good teacher would focus on helping the students excel. overtime, these teachers are usually liked too. so, instead of being only 'liked', why not be 'good' and 'liked'?

funny88 | Student

Ideally it would be nice to have both. From my perspective as a student, I want my teacher to be able to relate to me. Its great when you have a teacher that understands that you have a life, and might decide to give you minimume homework over christmas vacation and holidays. But most teachers are thinking about the long run. This will really help my class if they do this work. I would have to say that the good teacher that pushed me, would be better that the laid back teacher that seems "cooler". In the end, you realize that the good teacher just cared about you. They aren't intentinally trying to make our lives miserable, but they want to see us overcome our challenges, and reach the next level.

taravictoria | Student

Good topic - I like it ... :)  And after 10+ yrs of teaching I have to go with "Good" - if your meaning of "good" is in the sense of the teaching done in the room , of course.

I've had a lot of students that don't like me. When I first started teaching I was almost in tears with girls who were so mean and had a lot of ugly words for me. Only to find that 3 and 4 yrs later they were asking me to sign yearbooks and telling me how sorry they were to be so cruel. It's happened time after time too.

Now, mostly, I'm the "she's tough, but good" teacher certificate from most of my kids... most. Of course being liked is nice, but my job is to teach, and that's what I do. I make an enjoyable learning enviornment and whoever chooses to be a part of it usually has a great year!


mjane25 | Student

I have to choose well teacher,kind so i wll like it.Teachers that are good,good to be teach of students,caring,lovable teachers and also prayerful  teacher good to the students.Hard working teacher is good because they are trying their best to have their students learn good.

mjane25 | Student

I have to choose well teacher,kind so i wll like it.Teachers that are good,good to be teach of students,caring,lovable teachers and also prayerful  teacher good to the students.

saintkiss | Student

As a student myself, i pick a good teacher. Because a good teacher would be a teacher that is liked, maybe not instantly, but in time it will happen. I used to have a chemistry teacher, who always scolded me, and was really hated by the whole class at the start, but after that we realised that her scoldings benefitted us because our results improved significantly, from a class with 75% failures we became a class with 90% passes! She was a really good teacher who taught us well. She may not have been very popular with the students at first, she might be really strict and fierce, but in the end the students see the benefits of her teaching and so we grew to LOVE her!

Be a good teacher! Rather than being a popular one, students really need a good teacher to guide them, rather than a popular teacher who always jokes in class and never focuses on the subject.

crystalannpombo | Student

 I have had only a couple of teachers that I have liked and those teachers are the ones I have kept what I learned. Because I liked the teacher, I paid more attention and was excited to learn more. In middle school I had a teacher, Mr. White, he made the class fun and he taught threw that. I was so excited to go to history every day and everyone in the class loved him too. I love that he was a good teacher and was so cool and fun, I learned most that way and unlike most students I was eager to learn.

crystalannpombo | Student

Me personally, the teachers attitude towards students totally influences my opinion of the class. I love a teacher that is willing to have fun with learning and tries to understand his/her class. If a teacher could be kind or try to have fun with the class he/she would definitely have my respect but if they could also work hard for the students learning experience as well I would be all in. I have had many teachers that I don’t like for (as u say) "teaching well and being tough". I like that they teach well but they could be fun with it too. Learning should be fun not something I dread every day. So if the teacher could be a little of both that would be awesome. 

friendjoy | Student

it matter a lot to choose in a good teacher nd a liked teacher.

but it is true dat if u like a teacher then u r totally interested in what they r teaching or wat they r saying

let be a good teacher nd u dont like him/her den u cannot read in his/her class as u r not interested in a result dat subject becomes weak..


kyrak | Student

I do not believe that it is beneficial for students to "fear" their teacher. Yet, we are also not there to be their friends. I have always told my students that I am not there to be liked by them, but if they do like me, I will consider it a welcome bonus. I do try to build a rapport with them, as I think an atmosphere of mutual respect is important.

I think that students respond better to a certain amount of structure and discipline. They usually will then not only come to like you, but also be willing to put in some level of effort. However, no matter how much you may be liked (for whatever the reason), it is still difficult to get them to be active participants in a class of their least favorite subject.

dmargroff | Student

An excellent teacher will be well liked by the student that either chooses to learn and /or grows into a stronger positive character based on what the teacher has provided in the way of tools for that student.

Teachers are often disliked due to unfair practices; lazy, boring or unprepared lessons; or negative, disrespectful environments outside of school.

I strive to teach to the whole person. Teaching students how to learn and the tools to find whatever they desire. My purpose is not to make friends. Often it just happens because students recognize I care and will relate in a positive way as they see unconditional care.

krcavnar | Student

I think it is better to be a good teacher. I became a lover of history and politics because of a great teacher in high school. At the time I hated this woman and her "pushing". She was not necessarily an inventive teacher but her expectations were tremendous. When I got to college I realized I was much more prepared for the rigors of a college class because of her expectations.

I want to be a great teacher. I believe that even if a student doesn't really like me if I am enthusiastic about what I teach and I am knowledgeable of my content the student may at least appreciate the subject. Teachers must attempt to have a relationship with each student so that the student knows that the teacher cares about him as a person and a student. I don't think this means needing to be liked-- It is more about being respected as a good teacher.

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