How To Be A Cool Teacher: A Recipe

How To Be A Cool Teacher: A Recipe

Fabiana Gambino, Italy

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The first time I entered a class as a teacher, five years ago, I was overwhelmed with tons of doubts and, as days went by, a great dilemma obsessed me: how could I be an effective and, at the same time, appreciated teacher? I mean, a teacher worth remembering, a teacher my students will mention one day as a model teacher? This question would pester me for the whole year and after. Gradually, during my mental journey in search for the right recipe to be the “good teacher”, I realized that maybe this thirst for being liked and loved was due to a narcissism which was of course to be blamed. Actually, I was aware of my marked but controlled egocentrism. Nevertheless, I also knew that appearing cool, funny and great people should not be an aim for teachers. Being able to teach our subject, being effective in reaching all our pupils’ needs and learning styles, open new perspectives to our classes and let them choose their owns, should be our tasks. However, which teachers are not satisfied and pleased at hearing their students say they are great?

So, oppressed by my own expectations, in June 2007, after my first year teaching, I gave my students a paper and asked them to freely portray their ideal teacher. Nothing could confuse me more than the results of this survey. Some students seemed to appreciate strictness and discipline but they did not want to be oppressed by rules. Other students praised teachers’ grounding and knowledge of their subject but they did not mention their teaching method. Some others focused on the relationship between them and their model teacher and seemed to describe more a friend than an educator.

After a moment of puzzlement I remembered that those words came from the students’ point of view and were understandable and worth considering, but not necessarily “right”. Here was my mistake: I had to distinguish that what was cool for me was not necessarily cool for my students and vice versa. Give our students what they like or give them what they need? Sometimes like and need do not coincide and so we have to choose the best ingredients which combined together give the perfect, or at least the best, results.

So, I have elaborated these guiding principles, which worked for me in the definition of my “identity”.


  • First, be conscious of what you are as a person, that means being aware of your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Second, collect your qualities in a great bowl and mix them with the theoretical background you have acquired about education, remaining open, at the same time, to new perspectives.
  • Third, add some ingredients you don’t particularly like (e.g. activities which do not become you, such as for me acting activities) but that are perfect if mixed with the basis.
  • Fourth, add enthusiasm, passion and space for improvement. You are a person first and you may be wrong. Never mind, what really matters is that if you care for yourself as a teacher, you care for your students too.

To conclude, I think teaching-learning is like preparing a dish (and we all hope is a delicious one!): all ingredients are fundamental as well as the procedure you use to prepare it! Moreover, don’t forget that every delicious dish have to be done with passion, relaxation and spontaneity! So teachers, don’t strive to be cool, just naturally be it!

Categories: Aleatorii

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