🏄‍♂️ The best way to be a better teacher? To be a constant student!

As a teacher I’m always desperate to learn new things, whether that’s new languages , 🥁new instruments, DJing or even learning how to fly a plane  or learning how to fly a helicopter 🚁(that was pretty cool!)

Constant learning always makes you a better teacher.

So last week …. I took Windsurfing lessons! 🙂

So what did I learn?

“I can’t do it!”   

In the beginning most of the other students were scared and kept saying “I can’t do it!”   What did the teacher do?  Did he say “Oh, OK, tell me about it, maybe you can’t do it, maybe we should make it easier for you?”   Nope,  he just said “Get on the board.”  For great teachers, the thought of not being able to do it isn’t even considered as an option.

Fly the waves!! 

Sadly we can’t start and fly surf the waves.  Step one is just getting on the board,  then falling off.  Even though the teacher has taught this a million times, for us it is still the first time.  So we have to do step one before we can do the rest.


Falling off is how you learn. 

I’m sure it drives you crazy seeing teachers who tell their students they have to be “perfect” every time.  We all know that’s not how humans learn.  ( It’s not even how robots learn anymore!)    Everyone tries to get on the board.  And falls off!  It’s the falling off that lets us learn.   Then we go “Aha! let me try again!”   That’s learning.  And good teaching.  (The “aha” bit.  It has to be just outside our current reach,  but not so far that we can’t see it!)   After all if we could do it perfectly we wouldn’t be needing the lessons.


Every time, step 1, step 2, step 3.   

You review the basics every time.   Just like we do with the five minute warm up, whenever you get on the board you have to first actually get on it.  Then stand up.  Then grab the rope.  Then …..   i.e. you review each step every time you get up there.  Until you’ve mastered it.   So many teachers skip this and think “We’ve done that.”  And then never do it again!    “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick” 10,000 times” said Bruce Lee.


Show off a bit 🙂 

Once we had got the hang of it we got a bit cocky.  Hey, look at this!! We can do it now!! Awesome!!   The teacher’s job then is to do something *really* awesome to show us “Yeah, you’ve done well.  There’s still more to go!”   That’s what keeps students coming back for more 🙂


Right, today I’m off out to learn how to pilot a Hobbicat!! 🙂   What’s next for you?

Be genki,


P.S.  If you’re not Location Free yet and it’s still winter where you live,  that doesn’t stop you learning.  Check out the online MasterClass system, they have amazing courses from learning to write with Neil Gaiman, acting with Helen Mirren and Samuel L. Jackson to amazing music courses with Armin Van Buurren, Deadmau5, Hans Zimmer and Timabland!

Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. And when I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. So I'm sharing it all with you now...

5 Responses to “🏄‍♂️ The best way to be a better teacher? To be a constant student!”

  1. Nadezhda Drozdova

    Richard, you just can’t imagine how in time I got the link to this letter, this article. Sometimes it seems to me that I work not only as a teacher of English but at the same time a psychologist and help my students get rid of their doubts and not believing in their strength to get a better level. One of my students is like a beginning surfer who wants to stand on board and not fall. And yes, to be a constant student – it’s not only the tip how to be a better teacher, it’s the advice how to be a happier person.

  2. riccardo

    Hi Richard,
    I’m the owner of an italian School of languages, near Turin. I appreciate so much your effort in order to teach kids, adults and teachers. I would like improve my teacher’s lessons, but they like to work in the traditional way, with books etc. At the same time, I know they are not the kind of person would like to dance, sing and seem to be enthusiastic even if they’re not. Some of them are quite old or shy. I don’t expect them to change their character to be more engaging in class, but I would like they learn and adopt a more engaging method that would be nice for them too and not just for students. Last but not least, I need teachers be taught, but I need they go on working at my school. So I would avoid messages that invite teachers to go it alone as free lance. Thank and sorry for my ‘not perfect’ English. All the best. Riccardo

  3. Carmen

    This material is of great Help! It makes me feel motivated to learn new things everyday and then transmit that motivation to students. So, students will feel motivated to learn new things by themselves and be independent.


  4. Richard Graham

    Fantastic Carmen, glad it helps so much!!

    @Nadezhda, glad it helps! And yes the learning is usually what the students do at home, what we’re doing in class tends to be nearly all coaching and psychology! 🙂

  5. Richard Graham

    Hi Riccardo,

    Soooo many interesting points here!! 🙂

    First of all remember that you are the boss of the school. You took the risks of running the school and you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens. So if the teachers aren’t getting the results you want, then it’s your job to either help them improve or of course to find teachers who can do the job.

    And remember kids don’t listen to what we say, we copy what we do.
    So if you give kids a shy, non-enthusiastic teacher, what do you think the students will become? And are you OK with that?

    Even if the material is super engaging, it is very, very difficult if the teacher isn’t engaging. It’s like trying to drive a porsche with the handbrake on 🙂

    So … the question is, why do you “need” them to keep on working at your school? Wouldn’t it be better if they could work in a school where a manager more appreciated their style of teaching and results? Where they felt more comfortable and not pressured to be enthusiastic and engaging?

    And then wouldn’t it be better if you could focus on hiring the very best teachers for your school? With a small school you’re not hiring “teachers”, you are hiring superhero members of your team. You’re hiring the Avengers who can take your hopes and dreams and vision for improving the education near Turin and making it into an amazing reality for all the kids in your area! Every team member counts! 🙂

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