Being the best teacher ever is a rewarding label, isn’t it?! Just being a teacher is one of the best jobs ever. It has its moments, but we don’t need to focus on those. What we need to focus on are the little children in front of us each day who count on us to make a difference in their lives. We have much more than just a years’ worth of impact. Our impact moves into a lifetime.
When we start each day as a teacher, keep in mind that the little things that we do make a huge difference in the outcome of not only our day but our students’ day.
Here are 10 ways you can be the best teacher yet!
1.) Be consistent. Consistency is huge. To have excellent classroom management and classroom community, students need a secure environment that feels stable. The best way to make it feel stable is to always make it consistent. Then, there are no surprises, and they know exactly what to expect at all times. In some students’ cases, the classroom is the most consistent area of their lives.
2.) Always assume the best. I’ve actually learned over the years to not assume at all. But if you are going to assume anything, make sure it is the best in people. There is always a reason people do things.
3.) Learn to let the little things go. I know this is easier said than done. I know I struggle with this from time to time. The reality is, we just have to because if we don’t, we get weighed down by all the stress piling on. We make the choice of what’s important to cling to. If it’s not going to matter in five minutes, five months, or five years, then drop it.
4.) Focus on being the teacher. I remember when I first started teaching, I wanted every student in the class to like me – no, LOVE me. I was so hung up on being everyone’s friend. Of course, when you are the students’ friend, suddenly you make enemies with the parents, co-teachers, and administration for not doing your job properly. If you are friends with students, then it becomes a bit hard to discipline them. You have to focus more on being a teacher first and a friend second. It’s great to be a friend to students and show that you care, but you cannot put that before doing your job. Does that make sense?
5.) Be organized and prepared. These two go hand in hand. I say this because when you are organized, it’s easy to be prepared. When you are not prepared, the students use that time to get off task. It’s just time wasted. And when you are organized and prepared, it helps you feel confident and like “you’ve got this!”
6.) Give lots of choices. I’m always surprised when I’m talking to my colleagues, and they reveal that the only choices their students are getting are “straighten up or lose recess.” While I laugh when they mention it, I can’t help but think that if students are given more choices, they’d have fewer discipline issues. I was a bit of a rebellious teen (I’m sure my mom will at some point write in the comments!). My mom was a bit overprotective and because of this, we had many limits. My dad would say, “Well, where do you want to go today?” Not my mom. She would say, “Only up and down the driveway. I don’t want anyone taking you!” You see, it frustrated me. I got that taste of choice from my dad but not my mom. While I know I was a kid at the time, and my mind didn’t fully understand life, I just remember thinking my mom didn’t trust me. The point is that sometimes as teachers, we don’t let students make choices because we fear what will happen, and as a result, students feel mistrusted and rebel. We can give choices that are controlled a bit and still have happy students. Just give choices.
7.) Let the students do the talking. I love to listen, though my husband might disagree. He swears I have 100,000 words I have to get in each day. (This post is likely getting close, am I right?) When you step back and say nothing – at first, it’s awkward. It’s silent, and the kids think, “Oh boy, we made her mad.” But if you reply with, “No, I’m not mad. I’m waiting for you all to discuss the book.” Then, just continue to wait, and you will be amazed. Especially if you continue to act like you are a fly on the wall. When students sit back and keep looking at you like they aren’t sure if they are doing it right, or like they need you to ask the question next, it may be time to teach some independent skills and/or discussion skills. When you let students do the talking – really talking – you will learn so much about your students and about what knowledge they are really gaining!
8.) Hands-on, hands-on, hands-on. Students learn best when they can manipulate materials and when they can physically see it, and it’s just more engaging. Plus, it will totally save you time on grading. Who wants to do a boring worksheet? If you need ideas for hands-on activities, just take a scroll around my site here.
9.) Take time for yourself. Hey, stop laughing. I’m serious. I know that it’s tough to not take work home or to barely have time for your family, let alone you — BUT YOU MUST! You have to. Here is the thing. If you have a cup of sugar, you and each person in your daily life take a granule of sugar out of it each time. Eventually, that cup is getting empty, unless you put more in. How are you putting more sugar, or Dr. Pepper, or whatever it is, back into your cup? Don’t let people remove from your cup without you taking the time to put back into it. Because eventually, you just end up an empty, broken cup.
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