No, not students but you, yes you! Teachers! Ready for school tomorrow? Going back to school after the long holidays can be exciting, nerve racking and hectic depending on the situation. It can turn out to be the most critical and the most stressful. For a senior teacher like me , I will probably tweak a few things and make small adjustments to my teaching but the younger teachers may revamp their approach totally. It doesn't matter who you are. Some sort of transitioning is in order in the new academic term. Probably these tips will help:
- Reflect on the past
Experience is the best teacher. There were times I needed to just throw out those lofty ideas that didn't work and opt for more practical and impactful ones. Never be afraid to try a new approach but remember that sometimes you need to tweak it to suit your students. Good and bad experiences are needed to guide us as teachers. Your teaching experience begins in the first five years of your teaching career not in university! Someone may argue with me on this but universities or teacher-training colleges prepare you with much of the theory. It is in a real school that you're posted to will you experience it firsthand what it means to be a teacher. It is in school that you marry the theory and the practice!
- 2014 is a new year
Don't come to school with preconceived notions. No labeling of students from their past behaviour is necessary. Your students deserve a clean slate. Remember that every student is unique and deserves our attention. Teachers should avoid making judgements on their students and worse to share that information with another teacher who will be handling the class.
- Set your goals
Every teacher should have a set of expectations or goals that they want their students to reach. Goals are something both teachers and students can work towards. You can also set the goals with your students. Having a shared set of goals will push both teacher and students to work harder to obtain those goals.And remember that these goals can change as you progress, which is natural. I remember a former teacher in my secondary years saying "I have high expectations of you." That made me feel good! I felt the teacher had confidence in me and the remark motivated me to study.
- Set the tone
If you want your students to respect you, you must first set the tone for the entire school year. And the most important thing is respect is often won or lost in those few days of school. A teacher must seize the opportunity to establish a rapport with his students but at the same time show them who is in charge. A teacher who hopes for all of his students to like him is not being realistic. Use the first few weeks of school to drill your students with class procedures, classroom instructional language, expectations and goals. There is nothing wrong starting out as a disciplinarian and then slowly easing off throughout the year. Remember that education is a marathon not a sprint!
- Be prepared
Teachers must always be prepared. They must allocate time for lesson-planning. I have seen many who simply pick the coursebook and go to class everyday. Young teachers need more preparation time than veteran teachers simply because veteran teachers have the experience. Therefore take time to prepare that handout or to change teaching materials if the need arises. Teaching is essentially not a 7.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. job. It takes a lot of time to prepare before a teacher can really launch off!
- Declutter your table!
Whoever said a messy table shows you're a creative person must be nuts! Logically speaking, it is hard to find that stapler or notes if your table is cluttered! Surely there are better ways to measure creativity. I work well with a clear table and space. I need acres and acres of table because space allows me to think clearly- as simple as that.
- Love children
Always love children! If you don't have this quality or ability then you shouldn't be a teacher. Teaching can be easy if you don't want to care so much about your students. By giving them that handout or doing an activity, teachers may feel they have done a good job but our students need more than that. They need that personal touch from us.
Teaching is a special job. It requires special people to do the job! You are special!
The Thinking Teacher