7 Simple Ways to
Become an Inspiring Teacher
By Jennifer Scott
When you look back on your own time in school, what was it that helped you succeed? It probably wasn't a particular course of study, or the building itself that helped you gain a love of learning. Instead, you're going to be thinking of that one teacher who always wanted you to succeed. These kinds of teachers are the ones who are remembered fondly and talked about for years after students leave the school.
Becoming an inspiring teacher can be challenging, but you can do it if you have the drive. Here's 7 simple ways you can inspire your students and get the most out of them while they're under your care.
- Be positive in what you do
Everyone remembers that one class where the teacher was an authoritarian, never smiling, and ruled the classroom by coming down on every slight instance of misconduct, hard. That teacher, looking back, was looking to cement their place as the person in charge of the class. However, it meant that students didn't learn for the joy of learning, but through fear.
To be inspiring, you need to do the opposite. Be positive with your students, and ignore the rule that says 'never smile before Christmas.' Remember to give praise when appropriate. Students will react better when you actively look for what they're doing right, and praise them for it. Positive reinforcement can work wonders.
- Give your students objectives
Imagine trying to drive somewhere you've never been before without GPS or even a map. It's going to be incredibly difficult, if not impossible. The same goes for students who aren't given objectives in the classroom. If they don't know what they're looking to achieve, it's hard to keep up. It can also lead to misbehaviour in some students, too.
See yourself as the guide to your students' learning. At the beginning of each lesson, give them clear objectives that they can understand. That way, they have a goal to be aiming for, and will be able to take greater pride in their work. as well as this, you can point students to the objectives if they say they don't understand what they need to do.
- Accept you won't get instant feedback
"Many times you'll plan a lesson and at the end, wonder if you even got it right" says webmaster and private teacher Tommie A. Marcus from Best Australian Writers. 'Your students won't comment on what the lesson was like, and you'll be left wondering if you even did a good job. When this happens, you'll have to accept that you may have to wait for the results.'
You won't get instant feedback, and you'll have to learn to live with that. You'll see the impact of your work gradually, as students get more confident and knowledgeable in the subjects you're teaching.
- Get to know your students
If you don't know where your students are starting from, you can't help them reach their destination. To really know what your students need, you need to get to know them. Spend time getting know each student, both academically and personally. What do they struggle with? what subjects do they like? what are they good at?
Getting an insight into their home life can help you enormously, too. If a child doesn't get a lot of encouragement at home, you're going to need to work harder to encourage them in the classroom. Get to know their parents too, as they can give you a lot of insight.
- Create a safe environment
Thinking back to your favourite teacher, did they allow you to take risks? Maybe you wrote a slightly risky poem because you knew they would take it seriously, or you got to experiment in science classes because your teacher wanted to let you learn on your own terms. These things happened because that teacher created a safe environment for you to work in.
You can do the same. Make it clear to your students that they can always ask questions, and try new things, without judgement in your classroom. You'll find students are much more willing to push themselves because you're giving them the space to do so.
- Be consistent
When you think of consistency, you may think of an older teacher who is stuck in their ways. They may be consistent in that they don't change the way they think or teach, but in fact this is just stubbornness. A consistent teacher is actually something else entirely.
In your classroom, aim not to change your mind, or the rules, just because you feel like it. It might be easier to bend the rules when energy levels or low or you feel things aren't going well, but students will remember that. It's much easier to respect a teacher who puts reasonable rules in place, and sticks to them. This doesn't mean you can't make changes if they're appropriate, but if you do make sure you're transparent about why you're doing so.
- Listen to your students
It's easy for you to stand at the front of the class and just dish out information to them. It technically gets the job done, but you're not teaching anywhere near as effectively as you should be. A good teacher actually knows when to stop talking and when to start listening to their students.
This is especially true when children are struggling with a topic or subject. It's easy to become frustrated when you feel you aren't getting anywhere. Other students can become so anxious about not getting it right that it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Sit down with your students and listen to their worries and frustrations. You can find it easier to guide them if you know exactly where they're struggling, and they'll feel listened to and cared about in your classroom.
These 7 tips will help you become the kind of teacher you've always wanted to be. Put a little time and work in, and you'll see the difference in your students.