A couple of days ago I was on the computer using StumbleUpon, and I came across a blog that was titled 33 Teaching Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for Improving Your Teaching Now! It is a good blog post. Quite frankly many of the "hacks" should be done on daily basis in life outside of classrooms. After reading it, I took about five minutes to think about my nearly 20 years of classroom experience. I concluded that as the years passed I incorporated many of the suggestions into my teaching style. Through my experience each year, I was able to implement strategies that proved to be most effective.
The following is my list of suggestions regarding the most important things to be accomplished (on a daily and yearly basis) to become a better teacher.
1. Greet students as they enter the classroom and the school- Don't underestimate the effect of a simple "good morning" or "good afternoon" greeting in addition to saying the student's name (students like hearing their name).
2. Exercise patience- This can be difficult at times, but if you do students will pick up on this and trust that you have everything under control.
3. Always admit when you make a mistake- Everyone makes mistakes, and being willing to admit when you do will show students that you don’t think you’re perfect.
4. Understand that you can learn from your students- Always allow students to explain how they solved a problem or what thought process they used when thinking about a question. It will enable other students to hear a different approach (people think differently), and it may be something that you have not thought of.
5.Teaching the way you were taught will only reach one learning style- Differentiate...educational jargon for providing students with avenues to learn in order to take advantage of their learning style. There are three modalities of learning: auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Most people learn by way of some combination of them, but there are individuals that learn extremely well using only one modality.
6. Show students that there are more aspects to your life than teaching- Make sure to interact with your students in ways other than formal lessons. I used to regularly go outside during my students' playground time and play 4 Square, Tether Ball, basketball or just throw the football. From my experience, most kids enjoyed me participating and would sometimes ask when I would play again.
7. Recognize when students are having difficulty understanding the lesson- If a lesson is not going as smoothly as planned and students seem bewildered, stop the lesson. This happened to me several times. Don't force it. Swallow your pride and give the class a short break. Then transition to something else. You can revisit the lesson the next day when students are fresh and after you have had time to think about a better way to present the material so they will understand.
8. Shake things up. Let your students teach a lesson- When I taught 4th grade, every Friday afternoon (for most of the year) from 1pm-1:30pm I would have a "Student Teacher" lesson.This was mandatory for each student.Their only requirements were to tell me what they would be teaching, submit a copy of their lesson plan (a basic one I printed out) the morning of the lesson, and they had to fill the 30 minute time frame. Some kids really enjoyed it and some not so much, but they had a chance to work on public speaking AND the gained first hand experience regarding being a teacher. After each Student Teacher lesson, I had a 5 minute follow up with the student to get feedback on their experience. It is not a coincidence that there was a common thread...each student always said "They wouldn't listen."
9. Don’t be afraid to invest in your job- Don't just go through the motions. Spice up lessons with engaging and interactive activities. Always think of how you can make a lesson really come to life and resonate with each student. Be willing to give maximum effort when educating your students.
Do any teachers, parents or students have comments about this list? Teachers: what do/did you do to become a better teacher?
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