The 12 Habits of Successful English Teachers

Let me show you the twelve habits of successful English teachers.

Every teacher wants to improve. Every teacher wants to develop and offer the best to their students.

Here are twelve habits that you can start implementing to be a great English teacher in the classroom.

Let’s take a look…


the 12 habits of successful English teachers plan your lessons


Plan Your Lessons


It should go without saying that a successful English teacher plans their lessons well.
Whatever method you use for lesson planning — PPP, TTT, TBA — you should make sure all your lessons are planned to the very minute.
If you need some help in lesson planning, take a look at my articles below on how to prepare a lesson for your English class.

The Ultimate Guide to Prepare Any English Lesson

How to Prepare for Any English Class


If you use a lesson plan for each lesson, it means that you have a clear learning objective.
You need to have very clear goals — not just for each lesson — but for the overall course you are teaching.
Even down to each activity or section of your lesson plans, every part has an objective.

This will save you a ton of time in the long run. Plus, your lessons will be very engaging to the students and the lesson will run smoothly.


Plan Everything!


But apart from planning your lessons, you could also plan your entire working schedule. This could include student grading, meetings with students or student parents and preparing your lessons and gathering the class materials.
I like to use Evernote to do all my life planning, but there are many other apps or methods to use.

Like the man said: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance!


the 12 habits of successful English teachers engage your students


Engage Your Students


Make your lessons engaging. This means using songs, movies, warm-up exercises and other fun activities in the lesson.

Do not just use the book or worksheets!

You have to keep your students interested in what is going on in your lesson.
There is nothing worse in any English lesson than the teacher standing at the front of the class droning on and on, trying to explain the difference between past simple and past continuous.
You can use the following things in your classes to make each lesson more interesting:

  • Songs
  • Movies and TV
  • Warmer-Ups & Icebreakers
  • Realia




Songs can be a great way to get students to learn English.
With young kids especially. Younger kids love to sing in class.
For older students — teens and adults — they may not wish to stand up and have a sing-song in the class. But you can still use songs to great effect.
Songs can be a great way to practice listening, vocabulary and pronunciation.


Movies and TV


Movies and TV are also a great way to learn English in class.
I wrote an article on using movies and TV shows in the English lesson here:

How to Study English by Watching Movies

Of course, you can’t just say to the class: Hi everyone, let’s watch a movie!

Then watch Spiderman for two hours…
It has to be an activity designed to help the students.


Warm-Ups & Icebreakers


This is a great way to start your English lesson.
Don’t just dive into the lesson. Start with an activity that gets the students on their feet and thinking and speaking in English.
It gets their energy levels high and puts them in the right mindset for the rest of the class.
I wrote articles about warm-ups and icebreakers here:

Start Your ESL Class With a Warmer

Icebreakers for the first day of English class




And using real everyday objects is a great method to use when teaching English. Your students can learn very quickly by doing this and it keeps them very engaged in the lesson.

Read my article on using realia below

Keeping it Real with REALIA


Be Open To Change


A great habit for every successful English teacher is to be open to change.
You must have an open mind ready to try out new ideas and new ways of teaching.
Do not get stuck in a rut of doing your lessons the same way every time.
Talk to the other teachers or observe one of their classes if they are willing. Watch what they do and try to use some of their methods in your own class.
This is why it is a good idea to have regular teacher meetings where people can share teaching ideas and methods.


Always Be Learning


And this comes nicely into learning.
As a professional English teacher, you should constantly educate yourself about ways to teach.
Read books, watch YouTube videos, join forums, and listen to other teachers. But you must learn about teaching all the time.
There are always new ideas and methods appearing. And you need to find out what they are.
Learn these new ways of teaching and try to put them into action in your lessons.

Check out some of my guides below:

How to Get your English Students Talking

How to Teach English Vocabulary

The Pros and Cons of English Only in the Classroom


the 12 habits of successful English teachers reflect and revise


Reflect And Revise


Another regular task you can do is reflect and revise.
At the end of each day, go over your lessons and think about what worked well.

And what didn’t.
You can keep a journal and make notes of every lesson you do.
There are teaching journals online that you can use — I found these:


Day One




If the lesson went very well, then you may not need to change anything.
But when the lesson did not go well, you can think about the very things that did not work and why. Then make the suitable changes.
This will streamline your lesson plans until they are near perfect.


Ask Other Teachers For Help


A successful English teacher always asks other teachers for help.
No teacher is an island!
You are not alone. Ask others for help if you need it.
If you are teaching English abroad and you come across a situation that you don’t know how to deal with, then one of the local teachers can probably help you.
But for any teaching needs, your fellow teachers should be there to help you when you need it.
This is all part of being open to change and always learning.


Organisation Is Everything


And every successful English teacher is organised.
Not just your lesson plans, but everything else to do with your working life.
As I mentioned before, I like to use Evernote.
But there are other apps to help you organise your daily teaching life.
Take a look at these apps to help you:

One Note
Apple Notes

Google Keep


Make sure all your lesson plans are in easy-to-find folders on your computer or hard drive.
Keep all your physical teaching materials in boxes or folders.
Any time you need to find something, you should be able to find it immediately.


the 12 habits of successful English teachers put the students first


Put The Students First


A successful English teacher always puts the students first.
Every time you create a lesson plan, every time you enter the classroom, think of the students first.
They are your top priority.
But that does not mean they get to do whatever they want in the class.
You must make a set of rules that the students need to follow. There needs to be order in the classroom.
If you are teaching younger students, go over the class rules regularly. Use it as part of your lesson plan. Or you can use it as a warm-up at the beginning of class.

Check my articles below about student behaviour and maintaining order:

What To Do When Things Go Wrong In Your English Class

Bad Behaviour in the ESL Class

How to Keep your Students Interested in your English Class


Be Patient


And it should go without saying that any teacher in any classroom around the world should be patient.
At times, this can be trying, as the students may not be on their best behaviour. Or you are having a really bad day…
But you will have to practice patience with your students at all times.


Love Teaching


One thing that all great English teachers do is love teaching.
Many English teachers in various countries of the world hate teaching. They do their classes, then at the end of the day get together with other teachers who hate teaching and have a vent.
You cannot do this.
If you hate teaching, leave. Find a job that you can take some pride in. A job where you are fulfilled.
Great English teachers love what they do.
They take pride in what they do.


the 12 habits of successful English teachers build relationships with students


Build Relationships With Students


A successful English teacher builds solid relationships with their students. They get to know them and understand them as people.
If your students are young, get to know their parents too.
The more you know about the students as human beings, the better you can help them.


Share With Others


And finally, a great teacher shares their experience and expertise with others.
As your teaching skills develop, aim to help others.
If you see a new teacher struggling, try to help them.
No teacher likes to give away all their resources that they have built over the years, but it is a good thing to share some of them.
Give lesson plans away when you can.
Share materials and anything else you can.




That about rounds it up.

I’m sure you already have some of these habits. For the ones that you don’t have, try to bring one into your teaching life regularly.

Over time, you should be able to have all of these habits as a successful English teacher.

Let me know in the comments below!

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