Being a teacher comes with the challenge of dealing with all kinds of students, covering various kinds of subject matters, and ensuring the students’ discipline. No matter how experienced you may be, there are tiring times when you might seek to return to the basics and revise the techniques involved in being an effective teacher and the ways to keep your students engaged and engrossed in the process of learning. Following is a beautifully curated list of tips on how to be an effective teacher.
I. Creating a Positive Learning Environment
The most crucial role of a teacher in a student’s life is being the source of constant motivation and the guiding light towards their ultimate goal. Students, especially of younger age groups tend to deviate from the focal point of their subject easily and often get distracted by various sensory triggers: sight, smell, sound, etc. It is important that in order to keep these students from distraction, you put active effort into maintaining a certain class rapport and an environment suited to learning. Let us dive into the ways in which this can be achieved:
Establish a rapport with your students. Get to know them and their individual needs. Developing a personal connection with your students is the foremost and most important step toward creating a purposeful classroom environment. It is vital for a teacher to recognise that every student is unique; several different factors decide the personality and requirements of each student. For example, their family background, history of performance in the subject, family’s attitude towards the student and their performance, etc. Not only is it your responsibility to ensure that each student feels supported in their personal academic journey, but also to guarantee the development of an overall positive attitude towards learning. Developing a rapport with your students and paying heed to their individual needs would help you in this direction.
Set clear expectations and rules from the beginning. When getting introduced to a fresh batch of students at the beginning of a new academic year, you should take the opportunity to set off on the right foot. Like the importance of getting to know your students individually, your students too should have a clear understanding of you, that is, your expectations from them. Ensure that you set aside time prior to the first day of school to curate the perfect list of rules and expectations for your students. These expectations should be made keeping in view the examination pattern and the pace at which the portion must be covered. The expectations should allow the students to improve through the academic year.
Encourage positive behaviour with praise and rewards. It is safe to assume that students undergo all forms of pressures of their own: developing an awareness of the workings of the world, facing mental turmoil through adolescence, pressures from parents to perform academically well, etc. Hence, positive motivation such as rewards, incentives and praise would fall softer on their delicate minds than punishments, scolding and detentions. Positive feedback could enable you to better connect with your students as they would perceive you as approachable and pleasant. On the contrary, punishments could leave an indelible mark on them leading to self-doubt.
Be consistent with your discipline. Sticking to the rules, regulations and expectations set by you at the beginning of the year would convey their importance of them to your students. If you appear slacking with the implementation of these regulations, your students too might tend to pay them less respect. It is your responsibility to ensure the effective imposition of the rules as students tends to draw their attitude from you as an example.
Model the behaviour you expect from your students. Be the role model for your students. Portraying certain behavioural traits, carrying yourself with confidence and poise and treating your students with maturity and patience irrespective of their reactions to you, would enable them to look within as they observe the differences between themselves and your attitude, automatically leading to change. Children often absorb things from their surroundings. Having a role model and a chance to introspect effectively leads to positive changes in the direction of sincerity and seriousness.
Promote a love of learning by making your lessons engaging and interesting. It is a matter of pride to be able to engage one’s students through interactivity and occasional anecdotes. It is in most ways similar to how a public speaker manages to captivate a broad audience by being dramatic and utilising voice modulation and expressions. A teacher should constantly attempt to improve their ability of theirs to keep all eyes and ears glued to them throughout the classes. However, do not be too harsh on yourself. Like all other skills, this takes practice.
Create a safe and supportive learning environment where all students feel respected and valued. In line with points a) and e), you should ensure a supportive and safe environment for your students. Normalise making mistakes and not judging each other for the. Encourage learning from your mistakes. Ask your students to freely approach you in case of queries and do not turn down requests for repetition of concepts with doubts. Let the students feel respected and value their struggles, instead of off shoving them off as childish tantrums. Attempt to be empathetic and ensure providing a patient ear if a student ever needs it; it is a gift to have a student’s trust in you and you should not fail them.
Make sure that the physical environment of the classroom is comfortable and inviting. This means that the classroom should be well-lit, well-ventilated, and free of clutter. As mentioned earlier, young adults, as well as children, are greatly influenced by their surroundings. It is important to surround them with positive, enlightening, and energetic sounds and sights to ensure the proper growth of their malleable minds. A well-lit and well-ventilated room also has a positive effect on the mind as higher oxygen levels and bright lights keep your awake and active, leading to better class participation.
In case you find yourself eager to dive further deep into this topic, the following are great places to start. It is certainly a hats-off to you for being so devoted to the cause of teaching effectively! Indeed, every teacher has once been a student. In order to be a better teacher, it is pivotal for you to perceive things from a student’s perspective. Do not hesitate to experiment with your ways of interacting with the students and presenting knowledge in class. It is all a matter of time and practice; surely, your determination would bring you to your destination.