As teachers, our teaching ability is an art form that we keep developing throughout our careers. One of the best parts of any professional development courses I run for teachers, is the discussion about our philosophy and tips we can share with others about teaching. Establishing a good teaching philosophy and adopting useful tips from experienced teachers are essential tools for effective teaching.
Here is a guide that has informed my teaching over the years. I hope the teachers reading this blog will find it useful.
Affirmations are very important in education. Things you repeat over and over again become the thoughts and beliefs of your students. Make sure to plant good affirmations in their minds, ones that they will be able to use long after you are not there. “I can do it!” for example, is a great affirmation that will benefit them more in life than an A in math. Watch what you are repeating.
Be a role model. Kids learn by imitating the important people around them: parents, family members and teachers. This ability to copy is called Neuro-mirroring. As a teacher, focus on being a good example of everything you wish to give them: determination, curiosity, focus, purpose, collaboration, kindness and the list is huge. Be the change you want to see in them!
Collaboration in class can teach kids a lot about team work and can help them develop social skills that will be essential for success in their lives. Working in a team is a very important skill. Give students opportunities to work in a team but make sure they do not get a group mark for their final result.
“Doing no more than the average is what brings the average down”. Never aim for being an average teacher and never expect your students to be average kids. Aim high but be fair. Do not judge them for not fulfilling your expectation. Use your goals to encourage them to aim higher.
Education does not stop when kids leave your class. Consider yourself a person who is trying to make a difference in their lives in general. Never ignore their life circumstances. Adapt your teaching style to take advantage of each child’s circumstances rather than punishing them for their situation.
Freedom in the class is a good tool for teachers. Karl Rogers said that the freedom to learn is essential. It opens children’s minds to new adventures and learning. Create a classroom where kids have some form of freedom. Give them options, allow them to choose and take responsibility. You will both be successful for it.
Games are a great way to teach. A simple deck of card can teach more math than a whole book of questions and answers. Make a game out of everything. Even my university students learn lots this way.
Homework is the best gift you can give kids. It helps their brains store the information you gave them during the day in long term memory. Give them homework every day. Even 2 minutes of revision will make sure the information does not get lost.
Ignore behavior you wish to eliminate. Ignoring it is the best way to remove it from a kid’s collection of coping mechanisms. If you get angry, upset, disappointed, or punish kids for things you are unhappy with, you are unwittingly rewarding their behavior. They will more likely repeat it.
Joy is the way to check whether your teaching is successful. Use joy to measure yourself. If you get up in the morning and feel great about going to work, cool! If it is more like a burden, find ways to change it, fast! Your students know if you like your work or not. It will impact their motivation. A joyous teacher will be a good role model for joyous learning.
Knowledge is very important but a bit over rated. It is more important to teach kids how to gain knowledge for themselves, rather than chewing it up and feeding it to them. Like the quote, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”, it is more important to teach kids to “fish” rather than giving them one fish.
Join me next week for some more teaching tips.
This post is part of the series A-to-Z Guides: