How To Become The Best Teacher You Can Be

Are you a new educator who yearns to be the kind of teacher you remember fondly from your own childhood? Do you want your students returning year after year to thank you for the care you showed them in the classroom? Follow these tips and become the kind of favorite teacher your students won’t soon forget.
The first step to becoming a favorite teacher is getting to know your students. Work to memorize their preferred names as quickly as possible—you’ll instantly stand out from those teachers who are still struggling with names halfway through the school year. Show interest in what your students do outside of school, and know when they need some extra attention. In this way, you communicate to your students that you care about them beyond their performance in your classroom.
Next, don’t be afraid to let your students get to know you, as well. It’s important for students to be reminded that you are a person with your own life outside the classroom. You can share your hobbies and places you’ve been while still maintaining a professional teacher-student relationship. And your students will appreciate knowing about the life of an adult that is not a family member.
Because you are a constant role model, it is important to remember that the attitude you bring to your teaching affects the morale of the entire class. Beyond being passionate about the concepts you teach, you must be able to laugh with your students and be a model of politeness and kindness. In many ways, your students look to you as they learn how to navigate the world at large. It is up to you to teach them how to be kind, caring, open human beings.
You must also keep in mind that your students are still just kids and adolescents. You must meet your students where they are in their psychological and emotional development. Don’t use vocabulary that is too difficult to understand or so simple that your lessons come out sounding condescending. Be a model of mutual respect, and give them time to learn your routines and procedures.
While you will always be the ultimate decider in your classroom, it’s important to be democratic. Give your students a say in the rules that will be enforced and in the consequences for breaking those rules. Give your students choices; even if those choices seem meaningless to you—like which color highlighter to use while annotating an article—your students will appreciate being able to take some ownership in their learning. And always be sure to stay consistently fair and firm with every student. Every student deserves the same level of care and attention.
When it comes to creating lessons, assignments, and activities, adopt an interest-based philosophy. If you’ve already completed step 1, you understand what your students are interested in. Use this information to create engaging materials to activate students’ prior knowledge and examples that will keep them motivated throughout the lesson. Whenever possible, using authentic assessments that have real-world relevance will help your students understand the purpose of what they are learning in the classroom.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to allow your students—and yourself—breaks. We all need time to rest and recharge to continue to perform at our best. Allow your students time to stretch and reflect. Allow yourself the occasional mental health day, and use your sick days when needed so your body can heal and you don’t spend your instructional time coughing and spreading germs all over your students.

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