Articles for Teachers
1. Lay down the law. An effective, productive classroom environment is one that has rules as well as consequences that are presented, displayed and briefly explained. Don’t just assume that every student in the room has had the same home training you had. They don’t.
2. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Be careful with “letting things slide.” What you allow to happen is what will continue.
3. Develop a healthy classroom routine. What will your students do when they walk into the room? What happens right before they leave? Will tests be weekly or random? Are their review days? How long is it from test day to the day the tests are returned? What kind of neutral-positive mechanism will you use to get the students’ attention? Having a routine with give you and your students some peace of mind, and the continuity will also help you with time management.
4. Keep your students busy. It won’t kill ‘em. Dead time is disaster time for a teacher. Most students, especially with the way curricula are designed these days, will take any opportunity to break away from learning-mode. You must keep the students engaged for the entire period as you see fit.
5. Learn your lines. Your lesson plan may not go exactly as written, but know it well enough that transitions between topics/activities are seemless. Students can sniff out an unprepared teacher or a teacher who can’t make ad-lib look natural. Make sure that everything you say is short and to the point. See #4.
6. Know your students. Ever person that sits in your classroom came from somewhere. Each one has a story. A past. A certain something that separates him/her from the rest. You don’t have to be super versed in your students, but have a decent idea of how your students learn and look deeper into students with recurring issues with learning, behavior, etc.
7. You’re their teacher, not their friend. Their CLASSMATES aren’t even their own friends in most cases, so you don’t stand a chance. Befriending your students jeopardizes your professionalism. Sure, students may want to chat with you between classes about whatever, but during class, your job is to present things for them to learn and build on the things they already know. During the middle of your math lesson is not the best time to announce to your students about your pet horses.
8. Develop thick skin to the stupid things your students are liable to do. You will not survive the education realm if you always take things personally. Ringleaders (one of the 6 student personality types that I’ll be mentioning in another post if you’ve never heard of it) prey on teachers who take things seriously because it gives them opportunities to find your buttons. Once those buttons are found, the Ringleader can press those buttons whenever s/he feels your lesson isn’t worth the however many minutes of time you’re spending on it. By then, it may be too late and the Ringleader has accomplished his/her mission.
9. Know the school regulations inside and out. The more versed you are about school rules, the better you can enforce them. (It’ll also help you keep yourself in check on the job.) Otherwise, you’ll be that teacher that creates problems with other teachers. We want to maintain harmony here.
10. Speaking of rapport. Maintain a good relationship with your co-workers. This not only includes other teachers, but the principal, the secretary, even the cafeteria workers and custodians. Lots of times, these people loads of vital information about students, events and the general situation of the school that can help mold your teaching career at that school.
11. Go to workshops. Even though you may have taken education courses and had hours and hours of observations, even after you’ve began teaching, workshops often can give opportunities to share and learn new ideas and teaching methods. Also, they’re the perfect setting for shy teachers to ask questions without feeling inadequate or under any pressure.
12. Be the character you want your students to be. If you want respectful, mature students, show them what respect and maturity looks like. Treat them with respect in a way that is natural and not rehearsed. If you’re sarcastic and snappy with your students, then they’ll become that way with you and will grow not to respect you as genuinely. If you want your students to be organized, then see to it that you are also organized. If you prefer to yell at or embarrass your students in front of the whole class, or if you always keep a messy room, you’re only setting yourself up for sabotage, as that will only present to them negative examples of character.
13. Show some personality. You’re not a robot, and school ought not be a place where people feel uncomfortable and uptight. Smile throughout the day and greet students in the hallways. Keeping a hard-nosed disposition may cause students to resent you or deprioritize your course all together. Of course, don’t let it get so out of hand that you neglect #7 or so left field that you forget #12.
14. Save your voice. Once your routine is established, don’t re-explain it every time class starts. Just enforce your consequences until they get the picture. For example, say, at the beginning of your class, everyday there is an assignment on the board that the students must work on for the first 5 minutes of class - some words to define or some math problems to evaluate. The first week (if then) is okay, but afterwards, rather than re-explaining and reminding the students about the assignment every time, just call “time” when the 5 minutes are up. Those that finished and did what they were supposed to do will get their points or whatever system you have set up, and those who don’t won’t.
15. Wind down at the end of the day. Once you’ve finished all your classes and have taken care of whatever responsibilities your school may require, take a moment afterwards to basque in the ambiance of a completed day. This will help you develop a nice pace as the school year progresses. Also find time to let of steam away from campus with someone not necessarily related to the school just to remove any baggage and to help you with #8.