We recently spoke to Eddie Woo (of WooTube and Teenage Boss infamy) to get his thoughts on what makes a good teacher. This question was sparked by our own frustration at the enormous differences between classroom teaching styles and teachers ability to engage a student. Given Eddie’s popularity, we figured his approach was worth listening to.
“Great maths teachers must marry two key skills,” explains Eddie. “First, they have to know their individual students well so that they can provide tailored support and know how to engage them with the subject. A typical high school teacher like me will have about 150 students in their various classes during an average year, and so there is enormous diversity in their learning needs and backgrounds!
“But second, they also have to a deep knowledge of the curriculum. This enables them to know what concepts to emphasise, how to anticipate common student errors and what explanations or experiences are most helpful to develop understanding.”
You can read more of Eddie’s insightful thoughts on kids learning maths here.
Given the success of his massive YouTube channel (over 1 million subscribers and counting), it’s really interesting that Eddie puts the personal relationship with his students first and foremost. It’s a reminder that our kids can be ‘tutored’ by others – including tutorials on YouTube and other places – but the relationship they have with their classroom teacher is critical.
We asked around to find out from both students, parents and teachers what makes a good teacher. Some of their answers might surprise you!
What makes a good teacher?
“A good teacher is a fun teacher. They make lessons entertaining and you don’t get bored and switch off.” – Jayson, 12, Year 7
“My favourite teacher so far was Miss Wiseman because she was caring and kind.” – Anthony, 11, year 5
“I like any teacher that takes the time to get to know me and adapts lessons to suit the whole classroom, not just the smarter kids.” – Claire, 16, Year 10
“A good teacher listens and doesn’t just stand up at the front of the classroom dictating to bored kids. They get feedback and are flexible.” – Rayaan, 14, Year 8
“The best teachers are the ones who can relate the subject matter to real life. The real life of a teen, I mean. What’s going on for us right now.” – Jade, 17, Year 12
“The teachers I like best are the ones that try to relate to the class, not just do their own thing. It’s much more interesting when they get to know you.” – Matt, Year 10
“I think what makes a good teacher is one with plenty of experience dealing with lots of different kinds of students. Teaching to every learning style.” – Mrs C, English and Drama
“Good teachers can be many kinds of teachers – strict, more easy going, current or old-school. The defining characteristic is that they take the time to get to know their students and make the classroom a conversation, rather than a lecture.” – Ms W, Maths and PE
“I like to think I’m a great teacher because I listen to my students and work really hard to create lessons that will engage them.” – Mr P, Maths
“I think it’s easier to define a bad teacher as opposed to a good one. That’s because there are plenty of ways to teach a classroom of students well, but only one way to disengage them and that’s to never take the time to get to know them.” – Mrs T, Science
“Good teachers adapt learning plans to suit individuals as much as possible. Their door is always open and they personally get to know the kids as well.” – Miss R, English and Drama
“A good teacher is one that puts in every effort to explain the curriculum in a way the kids can understand and relate to.” – Mr R, HSIE
“Having a thorough understanding of the curriculum so you can adapt it to suit what your students are into. I think learning styles are also important and look to give varying examples so different learners can grasp onto something each time.” – Mrs R, History and Geography
“A good teacher is one let’s me know if my child is falling behind!” – Leonie, mum of kids aged 7, 11 and 13
“Being caring. At the end of the day, kids will learn regardless of the teaching skills. But, not being caring makes a crappy teacher.” – Kylie, kids aged 8 and 10
“The teacher one of my children had in year 5 took him from being a kid who hated school to a kid who skipped in each day. He’s never forgotten her.” – Sarah, mum of daughter 14 and son 16
“Remembering that not all kids learn the same way! Being able to adjust to students and think outside the box to help them.” – Tracy, sons aged 11 and 16
“Empathy. Understanding that everyone learns and responds differently. Willingness to sometimes divert off the set learning path and see ‘where the lesson/kids take you’. Consistency. And most of all a passion for the job.” – Sarah, mum of daughters 12 and 16
“Recognising kids’ different motivations.” – Emily, mum of son 7 and daughter 10
“They approach learning holistically. They see the whole child and not just a test score. They hard to give their students the tools they need to be the best versions of themselves. Education is approached mindfully and resilience is a huge factor in their learning.” – Tegan, mum of son, 11
“Being adaptable, patient, caring and kind. Knowing that not every day will be the same and what my children are okay with one day they might struggle with the next.” – Cathy, mum of kids 17, 9, 8 and 5, two with ASD
“Seeing each child as an individual and taking some time to understand them and their interests – which can be very different from their siblings.” – Rebecca, mum to kids aged 12, 15 and 16
Kids know a fake, so being genuine with their interactions, remembering things about them and the way they learn. Any teacher can teach them things if they don’t feel a connection or can’t relate that knowledge to real-life then they haven’t reached that child. Teachers need to be adaptable and go with the flow at times, especially with remote learning. If something isn’t working, change it up and try a different way.” – Cathie, kids aged 14, 13 and 7
Love the students
There you have it, and there’s a very strong common thread. As Eddie Woo recognises, a good teacher is one who gets to know their students. They take time to understand what would be most engaging to them and adapt their lessons to suit. A good teacher is also flexible and brings parents into the learning when necessary.
I think we all recognise a “good teacher” simply by the fact that they love their job and, most of all, they love kids. Something no one mentioned was knowledge or passion for the subject matter. I think some teachers make the mistake of going into teaching because they love maths or science or PE, rather than that they love teaching. It definitely shows when the are that kind of teacher. A love of the students and the process of educating is top priority when it comes to someone being a great teacher.
What do you think makes a good teacher?
Feature image by Zhu Peng; Disengaged student by Pixabay; happy students by Iqwan Alif
AL Tait recently shared her top three tips to get girls reading books again. Go check them out because we’re certain something there will spark your own girl to pick up a book again. It can’t all be Tik Tok and Insta 24/7, can it? It’s time to halt the scrolling and the trolling and look for books older girls will like.
There are so many reasons why books are important for kids. Putting down the screens for a while is just one of them. For that reason, we asked AL Tait to recommend a list of books older girls will find engaging and fun. The kind of books a girl can get lost in.
For our older girls, it can be hard to find a nice balance between books that challenge them, suit their lifestyle and preferences and don’t feel too hard or daunting to read. We reckon AL’s list below will tick all those boxes. Happy reading, girls!
21 books for older (age 10+)
These books are recommended by the Your Kid’s Next Read community or other experts. There’s a mix here of historical, contemporary, genre and age groups, but they’re all books that will draw girls in and hold their interest. Click each title to read more about the book or to buy it on Booktopia.
When This Bell Rings by Allison Rushby
In London’s Belgravia, Tamsin lives next door to Edie St Clair, famous author of the ‘London of the Bells’ series of graphic novels. With the series’ tenth and final novel overdue, Tamsin offers her idol help and discovers that Edie can literally draw herself into her stories. When Edie goes missing, Tamsin draws herself into the novel and lands in a world of unexpected danger. There, Tamsin discovers that Edie needs her more than she could have realised – only she has the power to write the perfect ending to this story. But the perfect ending will come at a great cost to all.
The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn by Kate Gordon
The Case Of The Missing Marquess: Enola Holmes #1 by Nancy Springer
The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke
In all the years that Elinora Gassbeek has been matron of the Little Tulip Orphanage, not once have the Rules for Baby Abandonment been broken. Until the autumn of 1880, when five babies are left in outrageous circumstances: one in a tin toolbox, one in a coal bucket, one in a picnic hamper, one in a wheat sack, and finally, one in a coffin-shaped basket.
Those babies were Lotta, Egg, Fenna, Sem and Milou, and although Gassbeek might think they’re ‘unadoptable’, they know their individuality is what makes them so special – and so determined to stay together. Twelve years on the children still have each other – until a fateful night threatens to tear them apart. The gang decide to make a daring escape, beginnning their adventure with only a scrap of a clue to guide them to their mysterious new home . . .
The Royal Ranger (series) by John Flanagan
Across The Risen Sea by Bren Macdibble
Sick Bay by Nova Weetman
The Fire Star (A Maven & Reeve Mystery) by A. L. Tait
A maid with a plan.
A squire with a secret.
A missing jewel.
A kingdom in turmoil.
Maven and Reeve have three days to solve the mystery of the Fire Star. If they don’t, they’ll lose everything. This could be a complete disaster . . . or the beginning of a friendship.
Click here for full review.
The Book of Chance by Sue Whiting
Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
Rick Riordan Presents Yoon Ha Lee’s space opera about thirteen-year-old Min, who comes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times.
Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.
When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name…
The Jane Doe Chronicles (series) by Jeremy Lachlan
Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal by Anna Whateley
The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
When The Ground Is Hard by Malla Nunn
Adele loves being one of the popular girls at Keziah Christian Academy. She knows the upcoming semester at school will be great with her best friend Delia at her side. Then Delia dumps her for a new girl with more money, and Adele is forced to share a room with Lottie, the school pariah, who doesn’t pray and defies teachers’ orders.
As they share a copy of Jane Eyre, Lottie’s gruff exterior and honesty grow on Adele, and together they take on bullies and protect each other from the vindictive and prejudiced teachers. When a boy goes missing on campus, Adele and Lottie must work together to solve the mystery, in the process learn the true meaning of friendship.
Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller
Aurora Cycle (series) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Deep Water by Sarah Epstein
None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney
You Were Made For Me by Jenna Guillame
Katie didn’t mean to create a boy. A boy like a long-lost Hemsworth brother: six-foot tall with floppy hair and eyes like the sky on a clear summer’s day; whose lips taste like cookie dough and whose skin smells like springtime.
A boy who is completely devoted to Katie. He was meant to be perfect. But he was never meant to exist.
Stars Like Us by Frances Chapman
Everless (series) by Sara Holland
Packed with danger, temptation and desire – a perfect read for fans of The Red Queen. In the land of Sempera, the rich control everything – even time. Ever since the age of alchemy and sorcery, hours, days and years have been extracted from blood and bound to iron coins. The rich live for centuries; the poor bleed themselves dry.
Jules and her father are behind on their rent and low on hours. To stop him from draining himself to clear their debts, Jules takes a job at Everless, the grand estate of the cruel Gerling family.
There, Jules encounters danger and temptation in the guise of the Gerling heir, Roan, who is soon to be married. But the web of secrets at Everless stretches beyond her desire, and the truths Jules must uncover will change her life for ever … and possibly the future of time itself.
What books for older girls would you recommend?
A.L. Tait is the author of three epic and engaging series for readers aged 10-14, including The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher and The Maven & Reeve Mysteries. Find out more at allisontait.com.
Feature image by Daria Shevtsova; Cover images via publishers
Happy mother’s day, mums! I’m celebrating my 16th MD this year. My first was the day after my son was born, way back in 2004. I was recovering from a 40-hour labour and Max was already showing signs of being a “non-sleeper” (as the midwives so mildly put it). To say I was overwhelmed and in over my head is an understatement. That feeling has basically never left me.
Which reminds me of the best advice my mother ever gave me. It came six weeks later after Max was born. Mum had sent me to bed just after midnight, telling me she’d wake me when Max needed a feed. She then sat up through the night, patting Max back to sleep for as long as she could to give me the first solid five hours of sleep I had had since his birth. When I stumbled into the lounge as the sun was rising, protesting that she didn’t have to do that, she simply said, “You take care of my baby, and I’ll take care of mine.”
I’ve been trying to do right by my mum by taking care of her baby ever since. It’s definitely made it easier for me to take care of my own.
Here’s how: The self-care parents really need (and it’s not a holiday) (although that would be nice)
To celebrate the wisdom and wonder that is the mum, we asked a bunch of wonderful women to tell us the best piece of advice their mums had passed on. We can think of no finer way to celebrate mothers than to pass on their wisdom and their love.
The best advice my mother ever gave me
“My mum told me to marry a kind man, and she was exactly right. Kind men make wonderful fathers.” – Amy, 37, mum of two boys, 7 and 11.
“Mum warned me that love wasn’t enough, you have to like someone more. She was right, I divorced my first husband and I like my second much better.” – Rachael, 42, mum of girl, 14 and boy, 4 and step-mum to two girls, 16 and 13.
“Don’t ever do for your husband or children what they are perfectly capable of doing for themselves.” – Ade, 39, mum of three boys, 11, 9 and 5.
“My mum told me to always sleep naked and ‘that stuff’ would take care of itself. It was as cringe-worthy a moment as it sounds, but I reckon she might be right.” – Lisa, mum of two daughters, 18 and 13, and three sons, 16,15 and 9.
“Mum embarrassed me endlessly at my wedding by getting drunk and slurring ‘Never stop dating your husband‘ right in my ear, but really loudly so everyone could hear, at least 25 times. It’s wise advice that I remember every day. The memory of her wine breath on my ear still makes me shudder a little bit, though. Which seems fitting.” – Jodie, mum of sons, 9 and 6.
“Your husband will be around long after your kids have left if you look after him right.” – Baydan, 48, mum of two sons, 19 and 16.
“Give a relationship everything you’ve got, except your independence.” – Robyn, mum of three step-daughters, 17, 14, 10.
“‘Nie wywołuj wilka z lasu‘, which is an old Polish saying that means ‘never call a wolf out of the woods‘. In other words, don’t make life harder for yourself than it already is.” – Lena, 40, mother to daughter, 14 and son, 12.
“That old saying, ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ was ingrained in my brain by my mother since birth. I reckon its saved my sanity many times. Just get the small jobs done and out of your head!” – Nicole, 46, mum to daughter
“The best advice my mother ever gave me was, ‘With every kick, you get a boost.’ I had no idea what she was talking about for many years, but now I understand that you learn something important from every setback.” – Lucy, 44, single mum to son, 14.
“The smallest steps still get you to the finish line. She’s never been a rusher, my mum.” – Amy, 37, mum of two boys, 7 and 11.
Try this: 10 ways to make today a good day
“Focus on the ‘what next‘, not the ‘what if’. My mum passed on when my kids were small and not a day goes by when I don’t miss her big time. It’s hard not to think ‘what if’, but I try to take her advice.” – Danni, 33, mum to son, 11 and daughter, 8 and step-mum to daughter, 8.
“Instead of asking ‘why?’ all the time, try asking ‘why not?’” – Ann, mum of four, 16, 15, 11 and 9.
“Don’t lie to anyone, especially not yourself.” – Rebecca, 44, mum of four
“An early night is always a good idea.” – Sally, mum of three, 15, 14, 11.
“Every child is unique, which means you need to be four different parents.” – Rebecca, 44, mum of four
“The best advice my mother ever gave me was, ‘Allow your kids their freedom as soon as they feel ready, not when you do.'” – Anna-Maria, 49, mum of daughter, 17.
“Stop teaching and just watch instead.” – Delphine, 39, mum of three boys, 11, 9 and 4.
“Widen your circle as big as you can – your friends, your routine, your world. It takes many different perspectives to raise a whole child.” – Abby, 36, mum of two sons, 9 and 8.
“More doing, less thinking.” – Raelene, 38, mum of daughter, 17 and son, 11.
“Try saying, “I don’t know, what do you think?” to your kids more often.” – Lisa, mum of two daughters, 18 and 13, and three sons, 16, 15 and 9.
“When my eldest started school, Mum turned to me and said, ‘The golden rule of parenting bigger kids is to praise often, question regularly and criticise never.‘ Which is all well and good, but I remember being criticised all the time, so maybe it’s something she came up with later? LOL.” – Annabella, 44, mum of daugthers, 16, 13, 10.
“You can always start again in the morning.” – Jodi, 31, mum of sons 10 and 8.
What’s the best advice your mother ever gave you?
Feature image by Shari Sirotnak; bed by Alexandra Gorn; sewing and plants by Kelly Sikkema
“I’m reading all the posts about social distancing and isolating with our ‘happy’ families. But what if the family is not so happy?” asks one of our Mumlyfe readers. What if you are forced into self-isolation at home when home doesn’t feel safe?
“Just going through a really tough time and this bloody virus situation is not helping,” she writes. “What if you really, now more than ever, need to offload a couple of kids to the grandparents in order to shield them from some conflict going on in the home?
“Or, temporarily boot a teenager out to try and create some space between him and a parent because their relationship has broken down so badly, they can barely be in the same room?
“Or a relationship really needs a break before any more damage is done?”
This a really difficult one to tackle. As Tolstoy so succinctly put it in Anna Karenina,”Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Support is there
Self-isolation when home does not feel like a haven is a terrifying prospect. Trust your instincts and leave if you need to leave. You can find support here:
For general family support, including single and co-parenting, contact Relationships Australia.
Families in conflict
Conflict within a family can be between parents, between parents and children, or between siblings. When there is trouble at home – whatever form it may take – home does not feel like a safe place to be ‘trapped’ together due to self-quarantine requirements.
“If your family is in conflict and you are self-isolated then it is safe to assume that without a clear plan in place, there is a risk that the conflict within the family will increase and the intensity of emotions associated with the conflict will escalate,” says Donna Cameron, founder and principal psychologist at The Couch.
In a self-isolation situation, the ‘flight’ option in our natural ‘flight, fight or freeze’ response is taken away from a person. Which leaves the fight response a more likely option, even in people who are not usually prone to fighting. Without the option of leaving, the fight response may switch on as the person tries to hold their ground.
Situations can escalate quickly
A person who is prone to resorting to the fight response in general situations may escalate their response. So, even if up until now your partner (or child’s) ‘fight’ response has been verbal, do not assume that it will continue to be the case. “The person will do anything to protect themselves and their opinion,” warns Donna. “This can include screaming, hitting and attacking.”c
It’s extremely important in self-isolation to avoid all situations that could activate the fight or flight response
“It’s extremely important in self-isolation to avoid all situations that could activate the fight or flight response,” says Donna. “Do not take this opportunity while your partner is in the house with you to discuss topics that in the past have created conflict, or that you know will upset the other.”
Instead, “Validate that this self-isolation period is and will be difficult for everyone involved.” While it seems unfair to continue to put the onus of peace keeping on the person at risk, self-isolation is not the time to make changes.
Co-parenting parents will feel particularly frustrated if required to self-isolate.
We need to put down the boxing gloves and consider the best option for the children
“One of them is going to miss time with their children and this often is a topic of conflict,”” says Donna. “When we are trying to prevent the spread of a virus for the health and safety of our children and ourselves, we need to put down the boxing gloves and consider the best option for the children of co-parenting families.”
Donna recommends having the children self-isolate with the parent they generally spend more time with. “This is not to say the other parent isn’t capable,” reminds Donna. “This is just understanding that our young children need to be with their main attachment parent in time of uncertainty and stress to keep them as relaxed and calm as they can be.”
Family lawyer Rebecca Bunney recommends that parents put their children’s safety first. “Do your very best to put all of your past hurt and concerns about your former partner to one side,” she told ABC News. “Really just focus on where is the best place for your children to be to have their movements limited as much as possible.”
Older children should choose if possible
Older children should be given the option of which parent they want to spend the time with, believes Donna. “This make them feel like they have some control in a situation that is out of their control.”
For the parent that misses out on physical contact with the kids during self-isolation, it’s time to get creative to keep in contact. Make use of Skype and Facetime and regular texts to keep in daily contact. Watch a movie together over Zoom. Help the kids with their homework over Skype. Hang out together over Facetime, just going about your regular daily activities.
To avoid future conflict after self-isolation is over, it’s worthwhile considering offering ‘make up’ time to the parent who misses out on being with the children. “The advice to clients would be make sure the other parent is not missing out on time and they get make-up time,” Rebecca told ABC News. “So if they miss two nights this week then say to them: ‘It is a credit, you will get to spend that time with them once this self-isolation is over.’
“Just remember this is not anybody’s fault, so don’t take your frustration an anger out on the other parent or the children,” says Donna.
Steps to minimise conflict in the home
Have crisis numbers ready next to the phone for if you need them
- Have crisis numbers ready next to the phone for if you need them:
- Call 000 in an emergency
- Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 if you need to talk to someone
- Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 for the children
- Consider finding a place other than home to self-isolate, where possible – a friend or other family member might be able to help
- Set up separate areas of the house for everyone to have their own space
- Keep things on an even keel – now is not the time to make changes, increase expectations or rehash old conflicts
- Check your own behaviour – try to remain calm and in control during testing situations, rise above it
- Practise meditation – whether it’s just a few deep breaths to help calm your brain, or being guided through a sequence via an app like Smiling Mind, meditation can help you be gentle with yourself and others during these troubled times
- Stick to a routine that is as close to your regular routine as possible (ie. work hours, school hours, waking and sleeping times, lunch times, etc)
- Use a ‘time out’ strategy – have some alone time in the bedroom, bathroom, backyard, wherever you can go to calm down
- Exercise to release frustration, anger and hurt – depending on your self-isolation mandate, you may still be okay to walk or run around your neighbourhood
- Phone a friend for a chat – a text just won’t cut it during this time of isolation, we need to feel heard
- Contact your mental health professional to arrange a Zoom/Skype session
- Call counselling services like BeyondBlue, Headspace, NAACHO and Relationships Australia when you need someone to talk to
Remember, reach out to friends and family so you don’t feel so alone. They will want to know you are safe and will do their best to help you through this challenging time.
If you, or someone you know, are in crisis and urgently need help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800. If you are in immediate danger, call 000 right now.
Feature image by Claudia Wolff; boy by Christian Erfurt; phone by Dustin Belt
This simple choc chip slice recipe is for the days when you want an afternoon snack, but you really couldn’t be bothered. That’s not to say it’s not amazingly yummy and moreish, because it is. What it mainly is, is fast.
You will memorise the recipe within about two goes of making it. Then it will just be a matter of thinking, “I really feel like a simple choc chip slice for afternoon tea” and then you’ll just make it.
Keep all of the ingredients on hand, ready to go.
You can take out the choc chips and add in pepitas or sunflower seeds to make this a healthier snack, but I think it’s just fine the way it is. It’s super-yummy with raisins instead of choc chips, too. It’s great for lunchboxes, either way.
You can make this simple choc chip slice a little less simple, but ultimately more indulgent, but substituting crumbled and smashed dark chocolate for the choc chip bits. Just put your chocolate block into a ziplock bag (or wrap in a clean tea towel for a more sustainable approach) and smash away with your meat hammer. Very therapeutic and it adds to the little-bit melty, little-bit chunky chocolate, lotta-bit smashingly good appeal of the slice.
Enjoy this one this afternoon with a cuppa.
Another good slice: Healthy Weetbix slice
Simple choc chip slice
Makes 12 slices
Takes 10 minutes
Bakes 30 minutes
• 150 g butter, room temperature
• ½ cup brown sugar
• 2 free-range eggs
• ¾ cup wholemeal plain flour
• ½ cup wholemeal self-raising flour
• 1 packet dark choc bits
Preheat oven to 180ºC and line a 16×16 cm slice pan with baking paper.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time and beat until creamy.
Sift both flours into a large bowl, add the choc bits and mix until combined. Fold this flour mix into the butter mix until just combined.
Spoon into the pan and smooth with the back of a metal spoon.
Bake for around 30 minutes, until an inserted skewer comes out clean and slice is gently golden on top.