Habits. Our regular tendency or practices, and actions that are part of our daily lives.

Each day, our habits are the small steps we all take to become better in our work and personal lives. At BASIS International Schools, our teachers are some of the best to be found and facilitate extraordinary outcomes for their students. From collaborating with colleagues to ensuring time for self-care, their everyday habits are a glimpse into what makes them great teachers and provide insights for others to learn from.

Be Flexible

Throughout my career, I have discovered that being flexible is a habit of a good teacher. As philosophies change, teachers need to be able to adapt to the changes and also be able to recognize the positive and negative consequences of the change. Changes are as simple as a switch of the daily schedule in the middle of the year, adopting a new curriculum, or getting a new Principal. It is also important to share our flexibility with our students and colleagues. Talking about change helps the entire community adapt and embrace the changes.

Catherine Spiller, Primary Homeroom Teacher, BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen

Stay Organized

As an educator, I believe that the habit that leads to successful teaching is to teach to make a difference and to stay organized. There is a saying, “With great power comes great responsibility.” As a teacher, you should recognize and remember the great responsibility that accompanies the profession. Make the students feel special, safe, and secure when they are in your classroom and have a positive influence on their lives. Let your passion for teaching shine through each and every day. Enjoy every teaching moment to the fullest and be responsible for students, parents, school, and everyone who believes in you. Also, never fall behind on marking student work, deadlines for reports, or whatever you do. Try your best to stay on top of it, and you will always be at the top of your game. This habit results in an effective use of time; staying organized will make every part of your work much easier to manage. It is also important to plan ahead in order to bring new ideas to the classroom to make learning meaningful and enjoyable for students! Even the busiest days become a breeze for the organized teacher.

Krupali Parekh, Physics Chair & Upper School Physics Teacher, BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour


After reflecting on my own experience, one determining factor affecting my teaching is how well I slept the night before. As teachers, we can see how sleepiness influences our students’ learning. It seems obvious that it would also influence our classroom performance. I am grateful that at BASIS, teachers are able to successfully balance their work and personal life, allowing me to give all my passion, creativity, and energy to my students, as well as spend time with my family and, of course, get a good night’s sleep.

Andrew Fischer, Primary Humanities Teacher, BASIS International School Guangzhou

One habit that makes me a better teacher is making self-care a daily priority. I have realized that self-care is not something that we should just turn to or lean on when we are feeling burnt out, nor is it something that should just occur occasionally or on the weekends. I have also learned that self-care can (and often should) be simple–for example, it could look like calling or messaging someone you care about, taking some deep breaths, or listening to a few favourite songs. One of my main forms of self-care is taking 15 minutes or more every day to go for a walk and get fresh air. Although this sounds simple, making this a daily habit has boosted my physical and mental health, supported my happiness and overall well-being, and helped me work more effectively. Investing in self-care has enabled me to better care for my students and colleagues.

Maggie Li, Primary Math & Science Teacher, BASIS International School Nanjing

Building Relationships

In my career as an educator, I have learned that building relationships is one habit that contributes to successful teaching. Whether with your students (which is most important), colleagues, parents, cleaning staff, or the guy who repairs the copier, those relationships lead to harmonious classrooms and hallways in a school environment. When you spend most of your day in one place, that place should bring feelings of peace and contentment to those inside it. Working at BASIS has enabled me to add global relationships to my life, and it makes my world go ’round.

Lora Goude, Primary English Teacher, BASIS International School Shenzhen


The habit that makes me better is a habit of mind: I’m always seeking to understand what my students need in order to provide it. This means that I switch perspectives to understand why that student didn’t understand the lesson on author’s purpose. It means I know to just listen when a teenager is crying. It also means I know when to hold the line about homework that’s late for the nth time this month. That habit of mind–seeking to understand so they can provide–always makes me better.

Sheila Seiler

Sheila Seiler, Head of High School, AP Language Teacher, Speech & Debate, BASIS International School Shenzhen

Communicate and Collaborate

The most important habit for me has been communicating and collaborating. Constantly checking in with my co-teachers, department head, and colleagues provides me access to a wealth of experience and resources that are impossible for a single teacher to have and assures me that I’m engaging in best practices for my students.

Michael Akingbade

Michael Akingbade, Primary English Teacher, BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen

One of the habits I learned to pave my way to being an educator is to be communicative. You must always be on the same page with your team and implement strategies in tandem. Being a great communicator also means you are able to face conflicts, solve problems, build trust, and get work done effectively. Open communication also helps me build great relationships with my students and parents. Working at BASIS has enabled me to communicate effectively and embrace challenges.

Jessica Di

Jessica Di, Learning Expert Teacher, BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen

One of my favorite things about being a teacher is the opportunity to collaborate with so many knowledgeable individuals. I often enhance my teaching skills and strategies by talking to colleagues about their best practices. Seeking out others to have these conversations has been valuable to my personal and professional growth. Many teachers at BASIS have specialized knowledge in one area or another, and we can benefit from that knowledge. I join colleagues for brainstorming sessions, professional development workshops, and get-togethers. I ask others what activities they love to use in the classroom. I ask about what works well for them. I listen attentively and then apply certain things to my teaching style. One of the best things about working at BASIS has been my professional and personal growth through collaborations with my amazing colleagues.

Benjamin Rushing

Benjamin Rushing, Early Childhood Lead Teacher, BASIS International School Hangzhou

During my time as an educator, the one habit that has helped me be successful in my teaching career has been the ability to collaborate. I always have my students sitting in groups actively collaborating. Students in my classes know the importance of working well with others, even if they are not their friends. I have seen the level of my students improve tremendously just by having students work with each other. Learning is more fun, especially the harder topics, when students can discuss the material. Plus, it is a form of studying. Someone once said that if you can explain a topic to another person, then you truly know the material. One way I challenge my fast finishers and high achievers is to have them assist a struggling student. When a peer helps them, there is less of a formality, and it keeps it social.

I not only encourage collaboration among my students, but I collaborate with my colleagues within my school and throughout the network. Collaboration is essential as a biology teacher. As a network of schools, I can message another teacher at a different school for support and guidance on how to teach a particular topic. By implementing the role of Course Advisors, BASIS is making it easier for teachers to collaborate across the network and not feel isolated or alone.

Tiffany Johnson

Tiffany D. Johnson, Upper School Biology Teacher, BASIS International & Bilingual School Chengdu

Observing Colleagues

A habit I developed is consistently observing and learning from other teachers’ lessons. I am teaching a different grade level and subject this year, and the most beneficial activity I have found is picking up new ideas and pedagogies that I haven’t considered using yet. Watching my colleagues’ best practices allows me to reflect on my own methods and build better lessons. Having a community of experienced and well-trained teachers is a gold mine! If you have been following the same formula for a while and it becomes stagnated, then maybe it’s time to branch out. Even if you try something new and it doesn’t work as planned, at least you’ve had a learning opportunity!

Sarah Mueller, Primary Math & Science Teacher, BASIS International School Guangzhou

Be a Lifelong Learner

I used to say, “I teach,” now I say, “we learn.” I bring sheer passion to my lessons, which I convey through actions typically used by actors and performers to grab the attention of my students. I use effective questioning disguised as a conversation. I like to conduct my classes in my lab, where my students and I strive for clarity and understanding of physical concepts and physics, always stressing critical thinking while while using the scientific method. With each new problem, we question whether the theories, ideas, and laws make sense and if they are consistent with experiments and reality. The methodologies and my approach to teaching them are extremely well accepted. I pay attention to every detail, from material selection to hand gestures, since all will impact the students. For example, non-verbal behaviors may help to express an instructor’s excitement for the material. The instructor’s animated demeanor is crucial to foster student enthusiasm for physics, as there is a little possibility of being excited for the subject otherwise. Every action and activity, if done properly, can be used for teaching purposes. Only when you approach teaching holistically will students be able to learn all they can.

Dr. Govind Pandy

Dr. Govind Pandy, Upper School Physics Teacher, BASIS International & Bilingual School Chengdu

The globalized world is rapidly changing, and it is important for educators to continually evolve to help prepare students for the opportunities and challenges of an interconnected and technologically advanced society. At BASIS, I have had the opportunity to grow as a teacher through my involvement in professional development workshops and PLCs (Professional Learning Communities). I work alongside many great educators and have greatly benefited from collaborating with colleagues who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to our learning community. Great teachers are life-long learners committed to continually exploring new ideas and teaching practices to provide dynamic and engaging lessons for their students. BASIS creates a supportive and collaborative environment where administrators, teachers, and students can continually learn, grow, and innovate.

Robert March

Robert March, Upper School Economics & Social Studies Teacher, BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour

The habit I found that makes me a better teacher is viewing myself as a learner too. Learning doesn’t end when you leave school; there are countless ways to develop as a teacher if you take the opportunity. By dedicating myself to learning another language, I was able to put myself into my students’ shoes and consider how they are receiving the lessons I was delivering. Are they understanding the content? Are they engaged, excited, and motivated to learn? Is it on their level? Am I challenging my students? I ask myself these questions when creating lessons and reflecting on my instruction. In thinking like a student, I can view my teaching practices through the eyes of those in my classroom.

Josephine Grace

Josephine Grace, Lead Teacher, Early Childhood, BASIS International School Hangzhou

Take Advantage of Teachable Moments

One of the great habits that makes me a more effective teacher is to take advantage of teachable moments when students ask questions. As educators, we sometimes get caught up in executing OUR great lesson plans and forget to stop and respond to inquiry questions in the moment. We think this might take the lesson off course from what we originally planned. I try to allow students to ask those questions and write them down during a teachable moment. We can take advantage of these moments by modeling how to do the research. We can explore students’ questions or dive deeper into their interests.

One example is I was following a schedule of introducing phonemes. A student had a question about another phoneme sound and rule. Instead of waiting until the later phonic lesson, I took advantage of the teachable moment. This habit of responding to inquiry questions at the moment, planned or not, allows my students to grow in ways I hadn’t expected and makes me grow with them.

Qunisha Springs, Lead Teacher, Early Childhood, BASIS International School Hangzhou

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