Lessons from our students

Hello, amazing teachers! As educators, we often talk about teaching strategies and how to tailor our craft to the different learning styles of our students. We do this to ensure the “big idea” we are teaching is received and learned. There is, however, another variable to being an effective teacher. We, ourselves, must remain teachable. There are lessons we can learn from our students. This will add value to the student/teacher relationship and is vital to making lifelong impressions on your students.

I am a strong advocate of being a lifelong learner. You must continuously be seeking out new information and opening your mind to the idea that every person you meet can teach you something. When you are open to change, you will find that you can learn from people of all education levels and backgrounds. On a philosophical level, you will learn lessons on life, gaining insights that you may not have considered before. Additionally, you will learn some fun facts about all sorts of things! Being teachable not only brings more knowledge into your life, but it also builds bridges of trust with your students. Those bridges of trust give you more power to teach them!

I am all about personal connections with my students. When the road to learning becomes a two-way street, this connection becomes more powerful. As ESL teachers, there are countless questions we can ask our students. I constantly ask questions to my students about traditions, holidays, and words from their native language.

While teaching a phonics exercise, I was challenging my student to come up with as many words as she can think of beginning with the letters in her lesson. In addition to this, I used relevant images and asked if she knew the English word for it. Some of the pictures she only knew the Chinese word. As she said the Chinese word, I repeated, then provided the English word. The look of excitement and joy on her face when she realized that she was teaching me is a memory I will always hold. She was thrilled to teach me new words! These are the connections that build trust and make you a better teacher.

I reached out to some fellow teachers and asked “What have your students taught you?” Here are some of my favorites.

I’ve learned lots of random Chinese words. If I had to choose, I’d go with 蚂蚁! ?. I must have heard that word a bazillion times when I started teaching online and It will forever have a special place in my heart!

Teacher Sally

I would say my students have inherently taught me how to be more child like, and “fun”, which I think is good! (Considering my persona)

Teacher Jake

That Denmark and Sweden have been at war with each other for more years than any other country…I checked on it, and it was true. I have also learned a ton of slang!


Whatever the lesson is, big or small, it is important to remain open to learning. The most insignificant interactions with people, whether students, neighbors or strangers are opportunities to learn. For me, as a teacher, I enjoy finding ways to engage my students by allowing them to teach the teacher. The connections I have formed with my students doing this is priceless.

I would love to hear your stories, what have you learned from your students! As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am still a newbie, learning as I navigate not only teaching, but teaching online. Let’s get a conversation started!  Come join our FB group at Teach English Online – TEFL/TESOL/ESL/JOBS/! 

For more fun and teacher engagement, come join our social teaching platform TEOLEO! Just click our TEOLEO icon below to get going!

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Written by Sarah
Hello, my name is Sarah, to my students, I am Teacher Sarah. I began this journey simply because teaching has always been a dream of mine. Life had other lessons for me to learn before arriving here. My life experiences are one of the things that make me an excellent teacher. Teaching online opens new doors for those of you out there with a heart for teaching and a desire to adventure this big beautiful world. Teaching online allows so much freedom, all while changing the lives of students and teachers all around the world. I want to share my journey in online teaching, living outside the lines, and doing what makes me happy.
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  1. Yes, it is great not only teach but also learn, I am a lifelong learner. We must learn as long as are alife. I learn from my students, from my own children every generation brings something new and challenging,

  2. Great article! I agree, constantly learning is a very important aspect to life in general!

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