Tes focus on… Popularity: does it matter?

The 1990s sketch show Fist of Fun features an anti-establishment teacher, Mr Kennedy, who wins popularity by smoking in lessons and dishing out alcohol on the last day of term. He encourages students to call him by his first name and he swears in front of the headmaster. He’s a god among teens.

Unfortunately, he is not a god of good grades: all his students fail their exams.

The message here is clear: if you focus too much on getting your students to like you, you can wave goodbye to any chance of them learning anything. And it is a warning that new entrants to the profession get repeatedly in these first few weeks of term: popularity doesn’t win prizes.

Looking at the research, though, that is not strictly true.

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