Teacher’s Pet: Wanna Be One?

by Dahlia Miller
December 2004

“One pound of learning requires ten pounds of common sense to apply it.”
Persian Proverb

Some people might call it “sucking up” but we prefer to refer to it as “modeling positive student behaviour”. Being a teacher’s pet pays off.

The fact is teachers are human. They like what they like, and they don’t like what they don’t like. Teachers like to see a spark in their students’ eyes. They eat that up. Of course, teachers want to be objective; they look for the best in all their students. But the bottom line is, they are human. They respond better to what they like.

What does this mean for you? It means that, if you know what your teachers like, you can give it to them and they’ll like that. They’ll smile more favourably on you and on the work that you submit to them. You’ll be paving the way to better grades*.

You don’t have to suck up to “model positive student behaviours”. We’ve interviewed over a hundred tutors on what qualities or behaviours they like best in students.

Below is a list of attitudes and actions that teachers go ga-ga for. Use them and watch as your relationship with your teacher becomes easier.

Teachers Love Students Who (Are):


  • Want to learn
  • Have a goal of becoming more educated
  • Looking for help or instruction
  • Studying by choice


  • Study hard
  • Try their best to learn


  • Hand in completed work regularly
  • Come to class on time


  • Come to class with all materials
  • Ready to work


  • Ask questions
  • Think about what they’re learning
  • Consider different angles to look at new information from.
  • Consider: Why is this topic being taught?; What might come next?; What’s the bigger picture?; Investigate more on the topic

Work With (not against)

  • Have a friendly attitude
  • Adaptable to change
  • Willing to try new things
  • Participate in class
  • Get to work when work is given
  • Create positive rapport with teacher
  • Respect classmates and teacher
  • Honest
  • Suggest approaches that work for them. Ask questions to get the answer in the best way (for example, ask the teacher to draw an example, tell a story, explain the basic rules, etc.)


  • Set goals and check back on them
  • Have notes, assignments, quizzes and other course materials organized in binders
  • Have time in schedule for study and review

Take Care of Themselves

  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Eat good food
  • Drink lots of water
  • Have fun
  • Get involved with friends, sports, interest groups, music, community


  • Take notes in class
  • Do homework
  • Study for exams
  • Not distracting others in class
  • Review notes
  • Keep up with class readings
  • If miss a class, get notes from a classmate who takes good notes

This is a long list. Luckily, most of the things on it are just plain good for you and many of them take little effort. The choice is yours.

“Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.”
Chinese Proverb

*We offer no guarantees on this outlandish claim.