Few professions are as necessary to society or as rewarding to the professional as teaching. Teachers help to mold the minds of the next generation. They equip them with the resources to face the struggles of adult life.
We’ve all had a teacher who shines in our school memories as a stellar example of all a teacher should be. He was funny and capable of making the material interesting. She was kind and creative and allowed you space to be creative too.
However, many of us have also had a teacher who epitomized the “bad teacher.” Strict, unyielding, and incapable of making the material intriguing, these teachers remain harsh memories.
If you’re a teacher, you probably want to be as much like the former as possible. You want to connect with your students, and you want them to connect with the material.
The question you face is how.
If you’re struggling to comprehend how to be a better teacher, have no fear! In this guide, we’ll give you the strategies and resources to be the teacher you always dreamed of being.
- How To Be a Better Teacher: Be a Guide, Not a Tyrant
Many teachers, both seasoned and new, fall into the trap of believing themselves to be leaders in their classrooms. There’s a time and a place for that, of course.
When you teach a lesson, you should be authoritative of your material and demonstrate fluent understanding, as well as passion.
However, a class cannot be a session of saying, “Look at me, I have a degree!” While you may think you are imparting knowledge, it’s not a knowledge of a lasting kind.
Students learn by doing things on their own and by bouncing ideas off of one another. As a teacher, you are a guide who will supervise them on that journey.
Answer their questions and prompt them to consider things in new ways. However, do this in a context where they can work with one another to understand their material.
This is more effective not only in teaching the material but in teaching them responsibility. As adults, these students will not be spoon-fed information; they will have to seek it themselves.
- Have Clear Objectives and Purposes
This is a critical teaching tip. Discipline is essential to all aspects of life, but especially in meeting goals. One of the core components of being disciplined is having a clearly defined objective. If you don’t know what your goal is, how can you meet it?
When crafting an objective, keep it concrete and attainable. You can’t expect students to have an intricate grasp of American Transcendentalism by having them read a paragraph about Ralph Waldo Emerson.
So, when setting your objectives, consider how much time you have to work with. If your total class time is an hour and a half, discern how much of that you will spend lecturing and how much you’ll give to the class to discuss or work.
Next, discern what the driving point of your lesson for that day is. What is it you want your students to take away from that day of class? What principle do they need to comprehend to understand their homework or reading?
When you get that, define this goal in very concrete terms. Avoid abstractions, such as “Students will understand the role of covalent bonds in chemistry.”
Instead, set a clear, testable goal, such as “Students will be able to define the term covalent bond.“
If you think you can achieve multiple objectives, then you can set as many as you think are attainable for that day or week.
- Treat Virtual Learning Like a Classroom
With COVID-19, teaching has been more of a rollercoaster than in years past. With schools being inconsistently open, shut, and somewhere in between, teachers face challenges now they never have before.
One of the primary things you must do as a teacher is making sure your virtual classroom is as close to a regular classroom as possible.
The quintessential component of a functional classroom is class participation. Utilizing online learning software to make learning interactive is imperative to educating students.
These online tools can include live online quizzes, polls, surveys, and, as much as possible, old-fashioned discussion. Furthermore, to be the best online teacher, make yourself available.
Your circumstances as a teacher may vary. If you have children at home, you may only have an hour or two where students can send you questions. If that’s the case, give them clearly defined times when they can contact you.
- Communicate with Parents
Parental communication is even more crucial in the era of online teaching. Ultimately, while students spend a great deal of time at school, their ultimate accountability lies with parents.
If your student struggles in class, isn’t turning in assignments or exhibiting concerning behavior, reaching out to parents is a good move. There may be things you’re unaware of.
Parents can also, unfortunately, be a source of difficulties. Parents may object to the material you teach or take their child’s side if the student is misbehaving.
When parents are pushing against you, always remember to remain calm. Try to understand their concerns fully; this is the first step to resolving those concerns. You should be sure to listen; it may be they have a point you should consider.
- Find Some Support
Teaching is a stressful, draining job. As such, you need a support system to help you get perspective and keep you calm. One of the best sources of support is a mentor.
Find a veteran teacher at your school who shares your passion and can provide you much-needed advice. This is a foundational answer on how to be a better teacher.
How To Be a Better Teacher: The Final Step
If you’re asking how to be a better teacher, there’s one final thing to keep in mind. Remember why you started teaching. You wanted to have a positive impact on students’ lives. No matter the challenges, you can still do that.
Take advantage of online resources to discover more effective ways to engage and communicate with your students.