Teaching Dos & Don'ts – 3 Tips for Becoming a Better Teacher
Nobody ever said teaching was easy. Rewarding, yes. Challenging, definitely. Emotionally draining, well, sometimes. Part of the difficulty of teaching is that teachers are quite often their own worst critics. A sense of imposter syndrome can creep into your career – that sense that you don’t really belong in the profession, and all the other teachers are somehow doing a better job than you are.
Also, after several years at the front of the class, it’s not unusual for a kind of comfort to set in. You’re relatively happy with your performance, so don’t want to push yourself or change your techniques too much in case the house of cards comes falling down.
But we believe that being a better teacher comes down to three factors, which you can start putting into action today. Let’s go through them.
1. Find the balance between assertiveness and friendliness
When we look back at our own school days, no matter how long ago they were, there will always be a few teachers whose names stick with you. That’s usually for one of two reasons: they were either incredibly good at their job, or they were the teachers you definitely didn’t want to get on the wrong side of.
If you really think about it, though, the good teachers probably had that rare quality of being able to control the class, nipping disruptive elements in the bud, but also being open and approachable at the same time.
Teachers who try to be down with the kids (i.e. by using phrases like “down with the kids”) are usually far too easy-going, and quite possibly laughable, to have a positive impact on the class as a whole. Nobody’s suggesting that’s the right tack. But there’s nothing wrong with chatting to children as if they are equals, finding out what makes them tick, and showing an interest in them. It works both ways.
2. Reward students
Pupils of all ages can struggle to find the answers to the questions you set them, or find the inspiration to return projects that have the wow factor. But part of your job is to help them unlock their potential, and there’s no better way to do that than with rewards.
Let’s not forget what potential is – it’s that elevation of effort that is still within a person’s abilities, but which is somehow being held back. It’s not about pushing them beyond their limits. But getting to that point needs an incentive. And that’s where reward schemes play a part.
3. Every day is a school day
We’re sure every day literally is a school day for any hard-pressed teacher, but never forget to keep learning. From picking up random bits of information outside your specialism to plunging into some form of adult education; staying abreast of popular culture as well as high art and intellectual pursuits; leaving nothing off the table or out of bounds when it comes to learning. It all adds up to a more rounded person who’s better able to identify with other people. And when you’re moulding young minds, there’s really no better quality than that.