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?

27 Answers

appletrees's profile pic

appletrees | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

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's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

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.

pacorz's profile pic

pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

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.


kiwi's profile pic

kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

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.

catd1115's profile pic

catd1115 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted on

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.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

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).

literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

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.


litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

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.
lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

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.

auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

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.

brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

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.

larrygates's profile pic

larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

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.

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

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.

bigdreams1's profile pic

bigdreams1 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

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).

shazkittenz's profile pic

shazkittenz | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

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. :)

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