How to be a Successful Teacher
The actions and words of a teacher have the power to influence a student’s life in many ways. For instance, a few words of encouragement from a teacher may help to lay the groundwork for a student’s future success in a particular profession. Furthermore, a teacher who expresses a belief in a young person’s potential could very well motivate that student to aspire to greater accomplishments. In other words, the work of a teacher is filled with significance.
A great teacher possesses many qualities. First, an effective teacher has enthusiasm for the subject he or she is teaching. This is an important quality because most students can immediately detect a teacher’s level of enthusiasm regarding a topic of study. Next, a great teacher doesn’t tell students what to think, but instead guides them through a lesson. Furthermore, an experienced teacher listens to students’ questions and allows them to explore possible answers. A teacher who takes this approach with students is enabling them to develop the invaluable skill of independent thinking. Another important quality found in many wonderful teachers is their ability to encourage students who are struggling with the subject matter. An effective teacher understands the importance of recognizing a student’s academic successes and praises them at all points along the way. A seasoned teacher knows that recognizing a student’s small victories is likely to spur them on to larger ones.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Becoming a Successful Teacher
• Do set aside a block of time each day to assist students who need additional help in class.
• Do set rules of conduct for your classroom and enforce those rules.
• Do dress in a neat, professional manner each day. This shows your students that you take the work of teaching them very seriously.
• Do arrive on time each day to class.
• Do outline for students what will be accomplished in class that day.
• Do share your enthusiasm for the subject you teach via your actions and lessons.
• Do remain open to questions from students about the subject matter you are teaching.
• Do continue to study and read material on the subject matter you teach in order to build upon your store of knowledge.
• Do stock some shelves in your classroom with books and materials on the subject you teach. Be sure to make these materials available to students.
• Do encourage all students in their pursuits to understand the subject you are teaching.
• Do share the successes and struggles you experienced when you first learned the subject that you now teach. For instance, if you teach math share a personal story of how you conquered a puzzling geometry lesson when you were your students’ age.
• Don’t harp on a student’s mistakes. Always focus on their successes.
• Don’t dismiss any student’s question as unimportant.
• Don’t put limits on any student’s potential.
• Don’t let one student’s misbehavior cheat other students out of learning.
• Don’t dress in an unprofessional way. A sloppy appearance conveys a lack of care for your important work.
• Don’t throw away any learning opportunities that your students could benefit from.
• Don’t underestimate the influence of your words when it comes to your students.
• Don’t do your students the tremendous disservice of thinking for them.
• Don’t accept a high level of dedication from one student and a low level from another.
• Don’t leap to conclusions about a student’s capabilities in your class.
• Don’t ever forget the significance of your work.
In many cases, a teacher has a limited amount of time to teach his or her lessons. That’s why it’s important for a teacher to have an organized plan of what he or she wants to accomplish during class time. The following is a sample plan for a teacher to follow.
A Typical Class Period
1. The teacher takes a few moments before class to relax and focus his or her mind on teaching.
2. The teacher takes attendance while students put their book bags down and settle in their seats.
3. The teacher quiets the class and collects the homework from the previous night.
4. The teacher asks if any students have a question about the homework assignment.
5. The teacher reviews what they will discuss that day in class.
6. If there is a test that day, the teacher offers to answer any reasonable questions about the material that students may have. The students then take the test for the class period.
7. If there is not a test that day, the teacher hands out any written materials that the students will need to guide them through the lesson.
8. The teacher then shares his or her lesson with the class allowing for questions from students.
9. When the teacher is finished with the lesson, he or she writes the homework assignment on the board for the students.
10. The students quietly work on the reading and/or homework assignment for the last portion of the class.
11. The teacher quietly answers questions and helps students who are confused about the assignment.
12. Before the class period is over the teacher reminds students of when he or she will be available to help those with further questions. A teacher may want to arrive earlier in the day or stay a little later in the afternoon to provide struggling students with help.
It’s true that an organized plan can prove very helpful to a teacher when it comes to conveying a certain amount of material to students during a semester. On the other hand, an experienced teacher knows that in many instances straying from a planned classroom routine can give way to a great amount of learning. For example, one question from a student during a history lesson could prompt an intriguing class discussion on a particular event in history. Instead of finishing a planned lesson, the students may indeed learn more by sharing their perspectives with one another regarding the historical event. In short, a departure from a teacher’s daily plan can lead to a class discussion that is beneficial to the entire class.
The beginning a school term is an opportunity for a teacher to set the tone of his or her classroom. A teacher can become overwhelmed by all of the things he or she must accomplish in preparing for the school year. Consequently, a basic checklist can prove very useful to teachers.
A Teacher’s Basic Checklist for the Beginning of a School Year
• Is the room decorated in an appealing way that will help to pique the interest of the students?
• Are the textbooks clean and ready to be assigned to students?
• Do I have extra pencils, paper, and other necessary items available to students?
• Have I compiled a list of supplies that students will need for my class?
• Are the desks in the classroom arranged in a way that is conducive to learning?
• Is my desk organized in a way that will help me to be an effective instructor?
• Do I need to purchase any materials that will be helpful to me concerning my teaching responsibilities?
• Are my classroom shelves stocked with books that will help students learn more about the subject I am teaching?
• Are my lesson plans interesting and will they engage my students’ attention?
• Do my lesson plans have a clear focus?
• Have I allotted enough time within my lesson plan to accomplish my goals for the class period?
• Do I have an activity or a story that will help to, ‘break the ice’ with students on the first day of class?
• Do I plan to set up a seating chart for students?
• Do I have the rules of my classroom displayed for students?
• Do I need any extra visual aids that will enhance my lessons?
• What will my policy be on homework assignments?
• What time will I set aside to work with students in need of additional assistance on assignments?
• Do I have a website for the parents of my students that will keep them informed of what we are working on in my class?
• What will my policy be for students who need to make-up tests?
• Do I have a list of books or assignments a student can choose from in order to earn extra credit points for my class?
The teaching profession is full of both joys and responsibilities. It’s important for any person who is considering becoming a teacher to explore his or her level of interest. Am I ready to dedicate my time to helping students learn the subject matter? Do I have the patience needed to work with students of varying abilities? Will I be able to share my enthusiasm for a subject with my students? These are all questions to consider when it comes to a career in teaching. The decision to become a teacher also means that a person is willing to devote ongoing study to a particular subject. Many people who become teachers persist in the work because they enjoy the experience of seeing a student begin to grasp a concept. A dedicated teacher has the honor of contributing to the early education of individuals who could go on to accomplish great things in their fields of endeavor.