What makes a successful teacher? It’s the multi-million-dollar question, and there are competing schools of thought (and attendant research) out there. With workloads already overwhelming, it can be hard to keep on top of all the latest approaches in the classroom.
But here are a few ideas worth considering:
Believing in your students means expecting excellence from them. Setting a high bar and then encouraging them to leap over it helps them to strive, creating a positive can-do attitude. But that requires creating a safe space where it’s ok to fail too. To dust off and try again.
Praise is a key factor in any successful teaching technique, but it has to be earned and deployed authentically. Students will pick up if you’re overdoing it on the positive affirmation front and it won’t mean as much when they do excel.
Students need stability. Establishing routines and responding to scenarios consistently makes your job easier. It creates a classroom environment more conducive to learning. That doesn’t mean being boring. If you have structures in place, it allows more room to explore securely.
While maintaining authority is essential, humour is one of the most powerful tools for inspiring young minds. Being able to gently rib yourself, your topic and your students is a great way to hold attention, build trust and respect, and reduce stress, making learning fun.
This might sound counter-intuitive, but sometimes to get where we really want to be, we have to go where we never thought we would. Try techniques outside your usual toolbox. Even if they don’t work out, that confirmation can reassure that you’re on the right path.
Teaching in a vacuum can get disheartening pretty quickly. It pays to build a strong support network with colleagues, swapping ideas, successes and failures. Seeking out a more experienced mentor is invaluable. And don’t be scared of dialogue with parents too.
Not every day is revelatory. Most are pretty run of the mill, but if you have long-term goals and keep plugging away at them, you’re always one step closer. Continuous learning is also brilliant, not just because it boosts your skillset. It also helps put you in your students’ shoes.