Beginning a career in teaching is extremely exciting. Shaping today’s minds that will run tomorrow’s world is a vital job, and it can be fun as well as rewarding. But anyone with a general idea of what teachers do everyday knows that every day won’t be a breeze. In fact, most days will be a real challenge. The good news is that if you come to the job equipped to deal with those challenges, you will be a much more effective teacher. Go into your new career armed with these 10 tips and you’ll be in good shape from the start.
1. Observe to become a better teacher.
A good way to get the lay of the classroom environment is to watch other teachers teach. This step is usually built into the requirements for your degree, since most education students have to observe as part of the curriculum. If it is not, make arrangements on your own to sit in on classes. Doing so will help you figure out what to do on the job—and very likely, what not to do.
2. Strive toward tangible goals.
The most effective way to organize a lesson is to set a specific goal for each one. The SMART system will help you set your goal. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based.
3. Schedule your prep time.
Most of the work happens in the classroom, but there’s a lot of preparation you’ll need to do after work hours too. Be sure to always set aside a specific time to get your lesson plans together so you never have to scramble to get them done at the last minute.
4. Exude confidence (or fake it if you have to).
Students can be an unruly bunch, and the worst ones can really frazzle you. Sometimes they may simply be bored and unengaged. The best weapon against such challenges is confidence. If you are in charge of your voice and body language, students will be more likely to allow you to take charge of the classroom.
5. Never forget—you’re the adult.
On a similar note, you must never forget that you are the adult. Difficult students may try to break you down and drag you to their level. It is your job to remain above such childishness—you have the control to both dole out the discipline and be lenient when appropriate.
6. Dress for the job.
On another similar note, you need to make it very clear by your presence that you’re the adult and not one of the gang. Save the cool and casual clothes for your spare time. At school, dress in a professional manner to establish an air of authority.
7. Establish rules early on.
You can’t just make an authoritative impression by dressing appropriately. You must also set out clear rules for maintaining your authority. Make sure your students know what you expect of them in terms of personal behavior, due dates, and class participation.
8. Encourage organization.
Organization can be a key to success, so aim to instill the value into your students. Expecting students to take notes is one way to encourage them to stay organized. You can also get them to think of your lessons in an organized manner by using visual aids such as graphics and diagrams to connect ideas.
9. Constantly check their understanding.
Your students’ ability to comprehend your lesson may not exactly keep up with your enthusiasm for teaching it. So every 10 minutes, take a break to check in with your students and find out if they’re following your flow of information. Asking a few review questions is one effective way to check their understanding.
10. Love what you do.
Finally, make sure you maintain that enthusiasm for teaching. The way to do this is to love your work. If you exude enthusiasm for teaching, exercise your imagination, and work to inspire the creativity of your students, you will receive greater enjoyment from your teaching and your class will be more willing to learn from it. Good luck!
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