I don't care about how well you do in your tests and exams. I don't care about how much time / money / effort you put into your assignments. I don't care about how well-behaved you are, or how well you work in my class.
These are the traits in a student I prefer:
- Kids who are quirky are cool. Have weird interests and hobbies. This shows me that you have an unusual mind, that you are comfortable with being different and that you have a character strong enough to resist the conforming influence of peer pressure.
- If you're kind to other people – even when it's difficult and when they're nasty to you – you're the kind of kid I want to teach.
- Stand up for the underdogs and I'll stand up for you every time.
- If you ask me unexpected questions and challenge what I say, I want you in my classroom. If you Google what I say and bring me evidence for an opposing point of view, my class is for you.
- Be excited about learning new things. Be curious and keen to discover things that are interesting on your own. Say 'Wow!' out loud when you feel like it – without worrying about being uncool. Do these things and you inspire me to make my lessons even better.
- Be challenging and 'difficult'. It makes me look at what I'm doing and how I'm doing it more carefully.
- Have opinions. But be prepared to change your mind.
- Take your assignments and projects to interesting places. If I give you assignment involving building a bridge and you get sidetracked and give me a scientific comparison of the bonding properties of different kinds of glue, I like you.
- You don't have to be loud and 'out there' verbally. I like introverts too. But I do expect you to show me how rare and different you are in other ways. How about tweeting cool things, or showing me your notes and doodles. Alternatively, write me a blogpost or paint me a picture.
- Listen. Other people have things to teach you. And they also want to learn. Respect other people's point of view, and I'll respect you.
- Smile and laugh. Positivity is infectious.
- Show me that you can think for yourself and that you like to learn outside the classroom, and you move to the top of my list.
- Read. It makes you interesting.
- Try your best. Be insightful, be creative and learn from your mistakes and you'll be at the top of my class.