5 Simple Ways To Be More Likeable To Your Students

5 Simple Ways To Be More Likable To Your StudentsThe idea is simple.

If your students like you, they’ll want to please you and seek your approval. Which gives you leverage—leverage to influence behavior like almost nothing else.

And the best news is… it’s automatic. Your students will automatically behave better simply because they like you.

The prevailing wisdom says that teachers need to be grim-faced and serious or students will walk all over them.


This old way of thinking doesn’t work with today’s kids. What does work is creating leverage and rapport through, among other things, likeability.

Five Simple Ways To Be More Likeable

It isn’t difficult to become more likeable to your students. Anyone can make a few changes in how they relate to their students and see results quickly.

Commit yourself to following the list below for just one week, and behavior in your classroom will improve—both because your students will be happier to be part of your class, and because you’ll have more influence over their behavior choices.

1. Relax

Stress will permeate your classroom like a thick fog, creating excitability in your students and negative feelings about you. So before greeting students every day, take a deep breath and shake the tension out of your arms, legs, and shoulders. Just let it go…

You’ll be more likeable, feel more confident, and carry the calm, relaxed demeanor of a teacher who knows what he or she is doing.

2. Smile

Deadlines, test scores, meetings, paperwork. When you’re under the gun, stressed, or not at your best, your smile is the first thing to go. And with it goes your likeability. You can’t be influential with a furrowed brow and a frown.

A smile is the first step to creating a mutual admiration society with your students; the more you smile at them, the more they’ll smile back. And the more you’ll like each other—a little known key to exceptional classroom management.

3. Be Yourself

Too many teachers hide their true personality from students for fear of inciting misbehavior. But enjoying your students and having a good laugh doesn’t cause misbehavior. It does the opposite. It makes you more likeable and gives you more power to command the behavior you want.

Keeping your personality under lock and key stifles your charisma, making you appear dry, dull, and humorless—which is the death knell of effective teaching. It inhibits that part of you that is the most inspiring and passionate; the part that students take notice of and put their faith in.

4. Tell stories

Nothing is more effective in creating leverage and admiration than being a good storyteller. Its transformational powers can put your students into the palm of your hand.

Start with simple 3-5 minute anecdotes. Share your travel experiences, embarrassing situations, or funny moments. As you get more comfortable, branch out to include fictional stories and stories to introduce lessons and units of study. (For more info on how to become a great storyteller, see Dream Class.)

5. Have fun

Having fun as a class is a potent leverage builder, but if you join your class in the fun, if you take an active part in it, your likeability will skyrocket. The key, however, is not to attach a secondary motive. Have fun just for the sake of having fun.

Not only will your students look at you differently after a game of Giants, Wizards, and Elves, but it will provide a wonderful shot in the arm for a sleepy, restless, or unmotivated class.

How Does Your Soup Taste?

Increasing your likeability will sharpen the contrast between being a contributing member of your class, and being separated from it (time-out).

For students in a majority of classrooms, everything feels about the same—muddled together in a lukewarm bowl of flavorless soup. The class is bland, the teacher is bland, time-out is bland. What’s the difference?

One of the smart classroom management goals, on the other hand, is to create extremes for your students.

The wider you can make the gap between what it feels like to be part of the class (savory, delicious soup), and being separated from it (bitter, unappetizing soup), the more effective you’ll be.

If you haven’t done so already, please join us. It’s free! Click here and begin receiving classroom management articles like this one in your email box every week.

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22 Responses to 5 Simple Ways To Be More Likeable To Your Students

  1. Sarah January 3, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    I have been here at school reading your articles for about 2 hours and have about 90 more to go. I have been teaching for 25 years. Last year I moved and took a job at a residential treatment school. Some people call them “special acts” schools. These are the kids that regular school districts pay $75-150,000 for the chance to place them here because no one has been able to “do anything” for or with them. I used to talk about how much I loved teaching, but in the last year or two, I have become frustrated and defensive. I loved teaching in many areas, especially 3rd grade, but jobs are few and far between, especially when one gets older. I know I am slowing down and don’t have as much energy as I used to and that isn’t helping. So I am here and need to make this work for all of us. (My students as well as myself). I know one of my students “like” me, but he is only here because he threw a book at a teacher and hit her in the eye. He is generally a really nice kid. Another student is very funny, but often insults my weight, or worse, he insults his classmates and I can’t seem to make him stop. He also interrupts constantly. I have another student that talks almost constantly, but he was put in ISS indefinitely because the other kids can’t stand him talking so much. He always has to have the last word. Another student, who I’ll call Eli, should be called Eyore. He never stops complaining, but beyond that he is terribly racist. He is Hispanic and can list all the other races that he hates and everything that is wrong with them. I have been trying to teach lessons about other cultures to help him appreciate the differences and similarities between different cultures. Recently, they put a female in my class who has been running out of every class in school and has been put in my class because it is self-contained. She has been doing “better”. She is coming to school far more often and is in the halls far less often, but I am not satisfied with that as her only accomplishment. Because of this mix of students I rarely get to teach anyone. There are other kids in class, but I can’t keep writing about every single kid. Most of them are just mixes of the aforementioned kids. None of them can do any math above third grade and don’t know their times tables. Two of them are non-readers. Most of the others read as approximately a 3rd grade level. One
    18 y.o. student can’t tell time. I spoon feed everything to them, and my lessons are so dry I can’t even get more than a few sentences out before things fall apart. When I read another teacher’s comments where she asked another teacher who has been having trouble, “How boring are you?” and was terrified I have lost my “it” factor. I have tried classroom rules, but there is little I can do as far as consequences anyway, because they misbehave so frequently. I can’t keep them after school, I refuse to give up my lunch, there is a “redirection room”, but most of them would be in there all the time with this plethora of misbehavior. I am asking for help, but I don’t even know the right questions. The year is half gone, and I fear I will never be able to turn this around. I know I am a good teacher (or was). Last year I taught math and two of my students were math phobic. Out of all the students in the school 8 of the ten top students were mine and two of them were the math phobic kids. I can’t seem to make this work, though. Can anyone out there help me or am I just asking for too much?
    Thanks for listening.

    • Michael Linsin January 4, 2012 at 8:06 am #

      Hi Sarah,

      I’m sorry about the problems you’re having. I’ll email you and we’ll try to get you on the right track.


  2. Sarah January 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Michael Linsin January 11, 2012 at 8:34 am #

      Hi Sarah,

      I emailed you a few days ago, but I’ll resend it just in case.


  3. Mark April 10, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    What Sarah wrote, I could have easily written myself. is there anyway you could include me in your e-mail what you wrote to her, to me? I am literally having almost the exact same issues. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!!!!!!
    I found the site because of trying to find answers to these questions.

    • Michael Linsin April 11, 2012 at 7:04 am #

      Hi Mark,

      Yes, I’ll email you.


  4. Ala July 23, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    Hi Michael,
    Thank you for your great articles. Especially, I like the idea of getting them in my email box every week. They keep reminding me to never give way to dispair, because I can always do better.
    Would you please send the letters to Sarah to me too? I will really appreciate it.
    Thank you in advance,
    Best wishes,

    • Michael Linsin July 24, 2012 at 7:29 am #

      Hi Ala,

      I’m glad you’re a regular reader! I emailed my response to Sarah months ago, but if I can find it I’ll pass it along to you.


  5. mmm December 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    Hello Michael. Thanks for the great articles.
    I was wondering whether you could e-mail me your tips for Sarah.

    Thank you very much.

    • Michael Linsin December 17, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

      Hi mmm,

      The email was written to Sarah more than a year ago, and I was unable to find it. If you have a specific question not covered in the archive, email me. I’m happy to help.


  6. Valerie January 28, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    Dear Michael. I appreciate your website and book and I am learning a lot and am doing better in my classroom. My question is about homework and being prepared each day with daily assignments. Students have homework in my class if they don’t finish their class work. I have several students each day that come back unprepared. What are your ideas on consequences for that? Some students that really struggle I will cut down on the amount they have to do at home is that a good practice? What about making up assignments that they missed? I have students this year that miss a lot of school. How do I keep up on keeping them caught up? Most times they don’t do any catching up work at home, no matter what I do.

    • Michael Linsin January 29, 2013 at 8:04 am #

      Hi Valerie,

      You can read my ideas on homework in this two-part series: A Simple, Effective… If it doesn’t answer all your questions, email me. 🙂


  7. Niamhfh May 20, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    Good evening, just come across your website and wish I had see this at the start of the school year. Or even last year. I am teaching about 12 years now and in the beginning I loved my job. The last few years I seem to have gone from teaching young children to managing behaviour. I seem to have lost the stark I once had. I no longer look forward to my days work, instead I prepare the the next battle. There is an mixture of ‘lack of support from the top’ and ‘stress and loss of ability on my part’. From a flustered and tired youngish teacher. Niamh

    • Michael Linsin May 20, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

      Hi Niamhfh,

      Glad you found us. Take some time looking through the archive, which is organized by topic. I recommend starting in the Classroom Management Plan category and then going from there. I think we can help reignite your spark. 🙂


  8. f.n. May 24, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    As the school year ends, and the pressure of testing is placed behind me, this issue of likability is definitely on my mind as I think about my approach for next year. I do have a question, but would it be possible to ask via email alone? I appreciate having a resource like your blog.

    • Michael Linsin May 24, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

      Hi F.N.,

      Yes, you can email me with your question.


  9. zahra August 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    I’m 19 years old. This is my first teaching experience… I’m teaching English to children from 6 to 12. At first we started the class with four students.but now they are thirteen and so hard for me to control them. I don’t know why but they are no more listening to me. They talk about everything except English in the class. I think I’ve lost the control of the class. I need some fun activities to attract their attention. Please help me what to do.. Would you please mail me?

    • Michael Linsin August 19, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

      Hi Zahra,

      Please look through the Rapport & Influence category of the archive. You should find what you’re looking for there.


  10. Suzy September 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    It ia nice reading all your suggestions. I seem to have almost the same difficulties as Sarah.
    Wish I could also read your suggestions.
    I’ll start with the 5 tips. Since indeed all the students behaviour makes me sad……………. pls Micheal all extra ideas are wellcome …….thanks…………

    • Michael Linsin September 19, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

      Hi Suzy,

      I encourage you to spend some time in the archive. As of today there are 250 or so articles to give you all the classroom management ideas you could ever ask for.


  11. aurora cuyan November 28, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    im from the philippines and i like reading your arcticles. pls e-mail me of your articles. thanks

    • Michael Linsin November 29, 2013 at 8:24 am #

      Hi Aurora,

      To receive the weekly emails, please sign up using the form along the upper right sidebar.