Guest Post: What Makes A Good Teacher?

Written by Antonia Shevlin.


It occurred to me the other day how much we as students take our teachers for granted. As an Education and Psychology university student I see the differences in teaching styles and it got me wondering ‘why do I like one teacher more than other – is it the lesson or is it the teacher?’. We’ve all had a teacher/lesson we hated but we will all have one that we couldn’t have done without. I know I have and I hope they know that I appreciate them.

Leadership and Coaching theory has become a growing interest over the last few decades, especially in Sports and Education. We all have that one teacher that motivates us to achieve, to lead us to success and coach us through the difficult times. Take a minute, think about those who have led us to where we are today. What was it about them? What made them different?

If your experience was/is anything like mine, it’s because they cared, because you have a relationship with them, a connection. They want you to do well. Often in institutions relationship is down played when actually it is a significant part of creating the right environment towards success. McGregor’s theory Y suggests that if the conditions are right people will strive towards the goals that they are committed to (Heil et al., 2000).

Attachment Theory

What makes my teachers great is that they are themselves. Where best to start than good old Bowlby (1973)and his attachment theory; his work led to the development of the Authentic Leadership Model. He believed that having a secure attachment meant that you will have confidence, curiosity, openness, and can form and build trusting and rewarding relationships. A secure attachment basically means that from a young age they are able to form an unbroken, attachment, which is usually through a strong emotional bond with a parent or guardian. By the age of 10 months old babies are capable of forming seven attachments, this continues throughout our lives and in my experience, being able to create an attachment to people has tremendous benefits; such as emotional development, access to opportunities, and mental well-being. It also can be quite an emotional journey (but that’s for another time). These are what make leaders great, this is what makes you a great coach, teacher and mentor. Knowledge of a subject is great but without the connection, passion and enthusiasm behind it, knowledge is just words conveyed to another. Without the relationship what is there? Ask yourself is your favourite teacher the one who knows it all like the back of their hands or is it the one who knows the subject but conveys it with such enthusiasm and passion that gets you hooked in?

Consider this, would rather have a know it all tutor who is stiff as a board or who wants a teacher who has the interpersonal skills to make the most dense topic seem like an adventure, who is willing to spend time and effort making it enjoyable, relatable and easy to understand?

Now everyone has their own style, people like different things but for me my favourite teachers (plural because I have great teachers-doing two subjects) are the ones who I can connect with, they listen to me, they make every lesson fly by (even when they are 3 hours long at 9am!). They understand me, how I work, if I don’t understand something they can explain it to me in a different way. They are quirky, funny, I can have a laugh with them, talk to them about what the weekend was like, but best of all they smile when they talk to you, if you see them walking down the hall they reach out to say hello. There’s nothing more comforting when you’re having a bad day than your favourite teacher walking past and saying hello with a big smile!

Emotional Intelligence

A common element to the effectiveness of being a good leader or a good coach is Emotional Intelligence. Part of Emotional Intelligence is ‘the perception, appraisal and expression of emotion, to facilitate thinking, understand and analyse emotions, and reflect and promote emotional and intellectual growth’ (Mayer and Salovey, 1997; Gordon, 2007). But what does this actually mean? Well it means that you are able to reflect on their own emotions, see what other people are feeling, showing empathy and using it to encourage those around you.

Goleman’s Theory (1999)

Goleman suggested that there are five components to Emotional Intelligence

  • Self-awareness: which is the ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions, and drives as well as their effect on others. Being self-confident, reflecting on self-development and depreciating sense of humour.
  • Self-regulation: The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods, suspend judgment, and think before acting. Being trustworthy, and upholding integrity, comfortable with ambiguity and openness to change.
  • Motivation: The ability to pursue goals with energy and persistence, for reasons that go beyond money or status. Having a strong drive to achieve, to be optimistic even in the face of failure.
  • Empathy: The ability to understand people’s emotional makeup
  • Social skill: The ability to manage relationships, build networks, and find common ground

My favourite teachers are the ones who know me for me. I am not just a name on a register or a face in the classroom. There is open communication, we talk to each other, they know how to work with me, instil me with the skills to be the best person I can be even when I don’t see it myself.

According to Goleman, Emotionally Intelligent individuals are aware of their feelings and manage them in order to positively communicate with others in a supportive and appropriate way. They listen to them, are sensitive to the opinion and viewpoints of others and are able to understand and effectively cope with other people’s feelings. Thus it is no surprise that researchers have found that those with higher levels of Emotional Intelligence have a strong correlation in their effectiveness of being both a good leader and coach(Grant, 2007; Mills and Rouse, 2009; Krishnakumar et al, 2016).

So take a minute and test how emotional intelligent you are:

Knowing that you can talk to someone, trust them, laugh with them is something that not everyone can do. Let’s not take for granted those that strive for you to do well. Let’s celebrate the teachers who give their lives to developing young minds, inspiring the next generation of business men and women, politicians, teachers, parents. Let’s be honest how many of us could put up with a class of 25-30 versions of our younger selves in a class. Oh the flashbacks! Hats off to my teachers.

Antonia is a third-year combined honours student at Manchester Metropolitan University studying Psychology and Education studies; where her interests lie in Leadership and Coaching, Bullying, Special Educational Needs, Mental Health, Forensic Psychology, and Community Psychology.  Her dissertation focused on how school age bullying affects adult life. She hopes to be an Educational Psychologist working in schools in collaboration with SEN departments in order to help every individual strive to be the best they can be no matter their circumstances. Antonia is thinking of creating her own blog hoping to bring awareness to some key areas of both Education and Psychology in a simple way to provide reflection and self-development – so keep your eyes peeled!

Research Recruitment!


I’m currently conducting some research into beliefs in free will and mood.

I would really appreciate it if you could take part, and please pass it along to all the people you know too! It should only take around 20 minutes to complete. More details are available from the link below.

Of course, I will be posting a summary of the findings after the data has been analysed.

If you would like to take part, please click the link below. Thank you so much for your time!


What is the Fashion Self Love Party?

I’ve been offered the opportunity to write a guest post for a virtual blog party alongside 13 other bloggers, promoting the importance of self-love and how this can be done through different aspects of fashion.


It’s certainly a one-of-a-kind thing. In fact, it’s the first ever fashion virtual blog party in existence. Created and organised all thanks to Alissa from Please go check out her blog!

The #FashionSelfLoveParty (you can follow this hashtag on Twitter) will consist of 14 posts written every day each by 14 different bloggers, from the 1st-14th February.Read More »

6 Organisation Tips for Students


Staying organised can be difficult but it becomes a necessary part of being a student. It enables you to become a master of the learning process. It is more than just meandering through your education, it is part of embracing what you’ve learned. Organizing your notes takes a bit of time but it’s so worth it. Here are some organisation tips I’ve found that work:

  1. Preparing beforehand

If your university or college makes the taught lectures available online before the actual lecture, it is worth printing these off the night before or on the morning to take with you. In my experience, a lot of lecturers speed through a lot of information so quickly so this allows me to write additional notes that they might give that aren’t already provided. These help me to understand the concept more and therefore I have more to write about in my assignments and exams.

2. Saving the syllabus

If you can access your lectures online, then it is wise to save these to your computer and back them up again, so you don’t lose them! I save all my lectures to my computer and also to my OneDrive account, and I also keep all my printed lectures and additional notes in binders (see below).

3. Organizing your notes into binders

I keep a separate folder for every unit/module I am taught at university. I tend to keep my notes in weekly chronological order with details on who taught them and their relevant contact details. I have also kept the notes I made at college and previous years at university for future reference. You never know when you’re going to need them! For instance, some of the notes I made at college I am now using for my dissertation! Read More »

Trait Theories of Personality

Our personality encompasses all that we are. All our little quirks, characteristics, behaviours, and thoughts which make each one of us unique. Personality plays a huge part in individual differences research and over the years many different theories have emerged.

One of the sectors of these theories are trait theories. These are also known as psychometric theories due to their measurements of personality traits through psychometric tests. Trait theories argue that every individual has certain unique traits resulting from our genes which predispose us to act a certain way in a variety of situations. These are thought to be consistent across situations and time. There are lots of trait theories of personality but here are a few of the most influential:

Eysenck’s Personality Model

Eysenck conducted factor analyses on personality questionnaires and found three dimensions of personality:

  • Extraversion (extraversion/introversion)
  • Neuroticism (stable/unstable)
  • Psychoticism (added in 1966)

According to Eysenck, extraverts are sociable and impulsive; introverts are reserved and serious; neurotics are anxious and worrying; and stables are emotionally calm and unworried. Those which fall under psychoticism tend to be lacking in empathy and more aggressive.

He also related a person’s personality to the functioning of the Autonomic Nervous System, in that someone’s personality is dependent upon the balance between excitatory and inhibitory processes within the nervous system (explained in more detail as a biological model in further posts).

The measures of these personality dimensions have been developed through many different psychometric tests, but the most recent is the Revised Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ-IR).

eysenck's neuroticism and extraversion model

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