Every bit as sharp as she is strict, we can all learn a thing or two from Hogwarts’ Head of Gryffindor house.

Ron dancing with Professor McGonagall from the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Here are some top tips to learn from Professor McGonagall.

Give credit where credit’s due

‘Well, I still say you were lucky, but not many first-years could have taken on a full-grown mountain troll. You each win Gryffindor five points.’
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

McGonagall’s staunch sense of justice meant punishment for anyone who dared to misbehave in her classroom. However, this worked both ways and achievements would always be recognised and rewarded.

McGonagall and Sprout in a Hogwarts corridor
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Never suffer fools gladly

Minerva McGonagall wasn’t born yesterday! She’ll not be hoodwinked by some swaggering imbecile in a fancy cloak… and yes, we’re talking about Gilderoy Lockhart:

‘V-very well,’ he said. ‘I’ll – I’ll be in my office, getting – getting ready.’
And he left the room.
‘Right,’ said Professor McGonagall, whose nostrils were flared, ‘that’s got him out from under our feet.’
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

McGonagall looking shocked from the Half Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

McGonagall wasn’t the sort to tolerate ignorance, especially from her own staff. She never hesitated to put fools in their place, even if they did happen to represent the Ministry:

‘I should have made my meaning plainer,’ said Professor McGonagall, turning at last to look Umbridge directly in the eyes. ‘He has achieved high marks in all Defence Against the Dark Arts tests set by a competent teacher.’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Umbridge Snape abd McGonagall at teachers table
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Sometimes it’s okay to bend the rules… just a wee bit

‘I shall speak to Professor Dumbledore and see if we can’t bend the first-year rule. Heaven knows, we need a better team than last year. Flattened in that last match by Slytherin, I couldn’t look Severus Snape in the face for weeks...’ Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Thanks to McGonagall’s talent scouting, Gryffindor house gained a star player in the shape of Harry Potter. Rules are made for a reason, but some are just begging to be broken, especially when your competitive streak is stirred.

McGonagall at her desk from the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Feel free to speak your mind…

‘It sounds like fortune-telling to me, and Professor McGonagall says that’s a very imprecise branch of magic.’
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

For advocates of order and logic, there could be nothing sillier than looking for soggy shapes at the bottom of a teacup. Mind you, McGonagall’s distaste for Divination was exactly what you wanted to hear after Professor Trelawney’s predicted your demise. Why waste hours staring into a crystal ball when you could be transforming animals into useful household items?

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

…but know when to put your differences aside

McGonagall might not have been a fan of Trelawney’s teaching, but she was the first to comfort her when she lost her job:

Professor McGonagall had broken away from the spectators, marched straight up to Professor Trelawney and was patting her firmly on the back while withdrawing a large handkerchief from within her robes.
‘There, there, Sybill… calm down… blow your nose on this… it’s not as bad as you think, now… you are not going to have to leave Hogwarts…’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Because sometimes being kind is more important than being right.

Dance like nobody’s watching (apart from the entire school)

‘I’m not dancing,’ he said.
‘It is traditional,’ said Professor McGonagall firmly. ‘You are a Hogwarts champion, and you will do what is expected of you as a representative of the school. So make sure you get yourself a partner, Potter.’
‘But – I don’t –’
‘You heard me, Potter,’ said Professor McGonagall, in a very final sort of way.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

When McGonagall says you’ll dance, you’ll dance – end of discussion! This gave us one of the most charming scenes in the film adaptation of Goblet of Fire (2005) as she helped the Gryffindor students learn their first steps for the Yule Ball.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Be the person you are, not who someone else wants you to be

‘My grandmother thinks Charms is a soft option,’ mumbled Neville.
‘Take Charms,’ said Professor McGonagall, ‘and I shall drop Augusta a line reminding her that just because she failed her Charms O.W.L., the subject is not necessarily worthless.’
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Poor Neville! He never fared too well in Transfiguration, which just happened to be McGonagall’s subject. Thankfully, his Head of House knew how to help her students find their true strengths along with a much-needed dose of confidence.

McGonagall Smiling having a drink from the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

And most importantly, don’t ever mess with her school!

Seriously. Or she’ll literally bring Hogwarts to life.

‘And now – piertotum locomotor! ’ cried Professor McGonagall.
And all along the corridor the statues and suits of armour jumped down from their plinths, and from the echoing crashes from the floors above and below, Harry knew that their fellows throughout the castle had done the same.
‘Hogwarts is threatened!’ shouted Professor McGonagall. ‘Man the boundaries, protect us, do your duty to our school!’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2