Teaching is undeniably one of the noblest and most essential jobs one can have. Without teachers, after all, there would be no doctors, engineers, economists, astronauts, police officers, etcetera. You get the drift.
Whether in grade school, high school, or university, teachers have the potential to mold our future. More than likely, you’ve had at least one teacher who made a big impact on your life. It might be the first-grade teacher who let you sit beside your best friend or the college professor who steered you into the right career path.
But while teaching can be fun, it’s also a profession that requires a lot of personal sacrifices. It’s not just homework, lesson plans, and grades. It’s also about the psychology of learning, employing the best teaching strategies, and being involved in the life of students.
Whether you’re a new teacher or one who has been in the trenches for years, you’re probably striving to learn more about becoming a successful teacher. Today, we’ve got some great tips for teaching, including how to maintain an effective classroom environment and strategies for teaching “difficult” students. Read on.
A successful teacher knows her subject inside and out
This may seem obvious, but as a teacher, you have to know your subject matter thoroughly. A deep knowledge of your lessons is up there on the teacher skills list — and for good reason.
According to a report from the Sutton Trust, subject knowledge is one of the six key elements to great teaching. A teacher’s knowledge of his or her subject has a “significant impact” on student progress. This is why feedback, targeted help, and continuing education is so important for educators. Feedback helps teachers become aware of areas where their knowledge is lacking, while help and education allow them to improve and develop a deep knowledge of their subject.
Be able to read the cues
This is where leaving an impact on your students comes in. As an educator, it’s also incredibly important to improve your interactions with your students, especially younger ones. One of the best ways to do this is to learn to anticipate their needs.
Pay close attention to your students and try always to see things from their points of view. When a child is difficult, try to put yourself in his shoes and ask yourself what he is feeling and what he is trying to tell you. When someone seems disengaged from the lesson, try to figure out why she has become disinterested and if the subject is perhaps too much for her to take in. Always respond in a way that fosters effective interactions.
Foster an effective classroom environment
This means encouraging dialogue and inquisitiveness, not shutting your students down when they question you or offer a contradicting viewpoint.
A good recipe for teaching success is to set the tone while also being receptive. Make learning more fun and interactive by asking your students questions that encourage imaginative and critical thinking. Let them connect the concepts you’re teaching to their own lives. Encourage open discourse not just during class, but at recess and during meal times. Ask open-ended questions and let your students engage in back-and-forth conversations so you can all learn from each other.
Cut back on praise
This one is on both the parenting skills list and the teaching skills list. Don’t praise your students too much. And when you do dole out praise, remember to commend effort over natural ability.
Why do you ask? Because there is such a thing as the wrong kind of praise, which can harm children in the long run. Experts say that while we often lavish praise to encourage our students, it can also come across as having low expectations and can demotivate students to work hard.
Study the psychology of learning but don’t worry about learning styles
Learning styles are a popular approach that most teachers rely on when trying to figure out how best to teach their students. However, the Sutton Trust report says that despite its popularity, there’s no evidence that the practice of following a student’s preferred learning style works.
Believe in yourself
One of the most crucial strategies for teaching is also one of the simplest. Believe in your abilities as a teacher, believe in your vision of education, and believe in your students. Every teacher has his doubts, fears, and weaknesses. Work through those and project self-confidence, even if you have to fake it at the start. Remember that even grade school students can sense when you are uncertain about yourself. If you’re not confident about your abilities, how can your students trust you to be the teacher they need?
Be involved in the life of the school and the life of students
Be a team player. Build and maintain relationships with your colleagues and the parents of your students. These interactions, as well as your professional behavior, also affect your students’ learning.
If you work on campus, immerse yourself in the campus culture. Teaching is no longer an individual task. You have to be able to collaborate with the rest of the faculty and school staff, sharing ideas, tips, and knowledge. Instead of competing, work together to find solutions and to ensure students’ success. Don’t hesitate to delegate work instead of trying to do everything yourself. Use a writing service if you’re pressed for time.
Kindness is just as important as strategies for teaching
What could be more important than a new teaching methodology? A human touch.
When dealing with students, especially young ones, small gestures can mean the world. A pat on the back, a compliment, writing a thank you note, or a few words of encouragement can have a huge effect on a student. Don’t forget that part of being a good teacher is making connections with your students. Treat each student as a real person.
Final advice for teachers
Teaching requires passion, commitment, and resilience. Expect anything and everything. You never know what your students are dealing with outside school so be joyful in their presence, even when you’re having a bad day.
Finally, the best advice for teachers is to never give up. It’s not an option for your students, so it shouldn’t be an option for you either. Good luck!