It is said that teaching is the noblest profession because there would be no other professions without it. This means that the quality of future professionals depends greatly on the quality of the teachers who mentor the present students. If you are a teacher or a future educator, then you have to understand that you have a big role to play in the molding of the next generation.
If you want to be the best teacher that you can be, then keep the following ways in mind:
1. Do not spoonfeed your students.
Instead of teaching your students what to think, teach them how to think. Instead of delivering the lessons, allow them to discover them through guided activities and discussions. Be a facilitator of learning—not just a plain lecturer.
2. Be diligent to check and correct the outputs of your students.
Sometimes, teachers find it stressful to thoroughly check the outputs of the students so they just give grades basing on the appearance (e.g. the length of the essay, the penmanship, and neatness of the write-up) or the class standing of the student (e.g. higher grades for those who actively participate in discussions and lower for those who are noisy) without actually checking the content. A dedicated teacher is willing to sacrifice effort just to scrutinize the outputs of the students in order to track their progress. Giving feedback and necessary corrections will help your students improve.
3. Master your lessons.
You cannot give an excellent quality of teaching if you are just a page ahead of your students. You need to have a mastery of the subjects you teach, so take every opportunity you can to learn and relearn all topics. Read the latest books, attend training, search for reliable journals on the Internet, and pursue post-graduate degrees.
4. Take to heart every seminar and training you attend.
Teachers are often required by their school to attend seminars, conferences, and other training activities. However, some teachers are only present for compliance but are not really interested in applying what they learn to improve their teaching methods. If you want to be a better teacher, then be excited and expectant to learn new strategies whenever you are given these opportunities.
5. Pursue further studies.
Proceed to post-graduate studies not just to earn enough units to get promoted. Take them as an opportunity to gain mastery of your field, improve your teaching habits, and be mentored by high-class professors.
6. Appreciate your students who participate in class.
It is innate to human beings to desire for appreciation and recognition—and your students have this need too. However, many of them are afraid to raise their hand during class discussions because they are either shy or afraid to make an error. Therefore, to encourage them to be more participative, acknowledge every student who voluntarily participates, even if his/her answers are wrong.
7. Avoid using degrading words when correcting students.
No matter how annoying or slow in learning a student is, never use derogatory statements, like “You’re stupid” when giving correction. Such words will have a traumatizing effect on the learner, and it can decrease their confidence and self-esteem.
8. Stop comparing students or classes.
A comparison will make your students resent you. It would make them think that you have favoritism. You have to understand that different students have different learning styles and levels, so you cannot expect them to learn at the same pace.
9. Learn from the strategies of other teachers.
Be humble enough to acknowledge that you have weaknesses as a teacher, and you have colleagues who do better than you in those areas. Ask help from them or observe what they do. You do not have to totally copy their styles, but at least you can incorporate the effective ones into your own strategies.
10. Laugh with your students.
Break the ice in the classroom by cracking jokes with your students from time to time—this will not make you less respectable. Too much strictness creates fear in students, which inhibits them from actively participating in class. If they see that you are approachable and not that scary, then they will loosen up to you.
11. Do not show favoritism.
Stop calling or praising the same student/s because your students will think you are biased. Give equal opportunities for everyone in the class to be involved and appreciate them individually. Also, be transparent in how you compute grades to show your students that you only grade each one according to their outputs and performance.
12. Be a counselor.
Your role as a teacher is not limited to mentoring them intellectually. You serve as a second parent and a life coach to them as well. For this reason, be sensitive to your students who are going through hard times and take time to talk to them and give encouragement.
13. Assure them that it is okay to commit mistakes.
Always remind your students that the reason why they are in school is that they still have to learn—so, as a teacher, you do not expect them to be perfectly knowledgeable about the lessons. Also, discourage them from laughing at those who make errors because what matters more to you are their effort to learn and willingness to be corrected. This will encourage them to be more participative.
14. Praise every student for progress.
Especially those who are having a hard time catching up with lessons, give sincere appreciation whenever they have progress—no matter how small it is. Letting them know that they are moving forward will motivate them to keep striving and do better.
15. Strive to be a role model even in your personal life.
You are not only a teacher inside the classroom. Your students look up to you as a role model, so be cautious in how you live your life. Yes, you are not perfect, but you can always evaluate if your actions, words, and lifestyle reflect a good citizen’s–and if you would want your students to copy them.
16. Inspire them.
The best lessons that you can leave your students with are not those from books but those that you have learned from experiences. Whenever necessary, you can share with them the nuggets of wisdom you have gained from life.
Teaching is a Calling
Being a teacher is not just a profession—it is a vocation. If you know you have been called into this field, then think of yourself as a missionary whose purpose is to guide and mold better leaders for the future.
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