We all have a few teachers that truly resonate with us as adults, years after we’ve graduated and moved on.
As a teacher you have a unique opportunity to make an impression that truly lasts a lifetime, and the lessons learned in your classroom can resonate for years to come.
What makes a teacher stand out and make this type of lasting impression? It can be anything from simply hearing and understanding a student’s concerns to offering a fresh new approach to mastering a process, method or piece of information. While every teacher is unique and brings their own personality, experiences and methods to the classroom, the following ideas can enhance your already effective lineup of teaching skills.
10 Ways to Improve Your Teaching Practice
There is no one perfect formula or recipe to create the ideal teacher, but the best teachers all integrate some of the following approaches into their own routines and schedules.
Never Stop Learning
No matter what you teach, there is always something new to discover, uncover and share. The more you know and love your subject areas, the better; your enthusiasm for your topics will clearly shine through. By committing to regularly learning more about both your key topics and teaching in general, you stay in touch and in tune with the information you are relaying.
Those little tidbits you pick up may be something your students have never heard before and what they actually end up remembering.
Your approach to differences, whether they are learning, behavioral or simple personality differences, impact more than just the child in question. A zero tolerance for bullying combined with an appreciation of those who are different in some way fosters a secure and positive environment for all. When your kids know you embrace and welcome those that are visibly different in some way, they know they can trust you with any kind of problem that arises and that you are authentically there for them.
The more you know and love your subject areas, the better; your enthusiasm for your topics will clearly shine through.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks
Your students watch every move you make, whether you are “on” and actively teaching or simply observing the class. When you try new things, even if they do not work, you are modelling this approach for your students—and encouraging them to try something new as well. This openness makes you more approachable, more understandable and more trustworthy to your kids; they see how you react to both success and error and learn from you.
Not every lesson needs to be the same; the most memorable classes and moments are those that break the mold or go outside the lines. Your students learn differently; some will learn by listening, others by taking visual cues, and still others with kinesthetic methods. By shaking things up a bit, you can reach each of these styles. Hold class outdoors, toss a ball during a Q & A, sit on the floor and move around—incorporating movement and gamification can help create a memorable lesson and ensure that the information truly sticks.
No matter what grade you teach, your students are digital natives in tune with technology. Incorporating a new “toy” into your lessons or using technology to complete a task can draw on this innate skill set and create memorable experiences for your kids. While every student will not have access to the same tech at home, incorporating technology in the classroom can make for a more level playing field and engage interest.
Your students watch every move you make, whether you are “on” and actively teaching or simply observing the class.
Have High Expectations
Your success is tied to the success of your students; when you truly believe in their potential, you can help them succeed in the classroom.
Your high expectations showcase what you believe they can do and give them something to live up to.
This approach increases both confidence and motivation, particularly when you relay your belief in each child’s abilities and potential. Your classroom becomes a positive place that allows for true and significant growth.
Bring Energy and Fun to the Classroom
You set the stage for your students’ attitudes in the classroom and about learning in general. When you are energetic, enthusiastic and upbeat, your kids can be too. Thinking back to your own days in the classroom, which classes did you look forward to most? The staid, serious teachers who simply got through the day, or the ones who brought fun, energy and humour to the classroom? The energy your bring to the classroom each day does more than just make it a fun place to learn, it makes you more approachable to your students and makes it easier for them to come to you for help.
Recognize and Embrace Diversity
The 20 or so kids that make up your class come from a diverse range of backgrounds, family makeups and situations. When you make the effort to understand and incorporate a variety of cultures, family makeups, and situations into your teaching, you can resonate with all of your students, not just those who fit one particular background or experience. Taking the time to learn about the families and kids you teach ensures you truly understand where they are coming from and what they need from their time with you.
You set the stage for your students’ attitudes in the classroom and about learning in general. When you are energetic, enthusiastic and upbeat, your kids can be too.
Get to Know Trends
You don't need to jump onboard every trending game, book or character that appeals to your kid, but knowing some basics can help you relate. That kid flossing during recess is into Fortnite and gaming; creative strategies that incorporate gamification will likely appeal to him (or her). The girls playing with slime at lunch may respond well to other sensory or tactile experiences. Knowing the most popular trends in your own classroom allow you to craft approaches that truly resonate, whether you mention the trend in question or not. If you have no idea what your kids are into, it will be more difficult to reach them in a meaningful way.
Have a Short Memory
While you need to have rules and consequences in the classroom, having a short memory once issues are resolved ensures a fresh start for students who struggled the day before.
Your expectations and approach to relationships with your kids—especially the challenging ones—set the tone for your entire classroom.
You are more than just a highway for knowledge and learning. When your students know they can rely on you for acceptance, support and help and when they know that they can turn to you, they will feel more comfortable in your classroom and be more likely to succeed. Chances are you already naturally do some of thing things on this list already—most great teachers do. Taking time to mindfully incorporate the attitudes and approaches above will help you make a positive mark on each of the kids entrusted into your care and send them on with the skills and confidence they need to succeed.