Do you yearn to increase your effectiveness as a teacher? Are you teaching your heart out, but for some reason the material just isn’t “sticking” with your kiddos? If so, you’re not alone. At some point, every single teacher has dealt with wanting to be more effective. Let me give you a quick scenario…
- You are teaching away; giving it everything you have. You look up and the kids have these glazed expressions aka “deer in the headlights.” You’re trying to figure out at what point you began speaking a different language because they were just engaged 2 seconds ago.
Sound familiar? Be honest…we’ve all been there. Most of the time this occurs when the material you are covering is extremely difficult and they just don’t “get it.” You’ve taught the same content before with great success, but for some reason, it just isn’t connecting with your current kids. This can be a tough pill to swallow if you have always prided yourself on being a “great” teacher.
If many of your students are struggling, you may need to reassess your approach to teaching this content.
So, does this mean you’re now a failure as a teacher? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Each year brings a new set of challenges, and if you want be effective, you need to figure out a different way to teach the content so that it “sticks” with your students. I have 4 ways for you to increase your effectiveness as a teacher.
Watch Another Teacher
One great way that I have found to increase my effectiveness is by simply watching another teacher. Sometimes just seeing a new way to interact with your students can be beneficial. Ask yourself, “What is this teacher doing that would work with my students?” Ask the teacher specific questions about what works for him or her, why it works, and take away an idea or two that will be productive.
Remember, the goal of this exercise is to find a few valuable techniques, not to become someone else. You have unique abilities and strengths. Some methods are not going to work for you, and that’s ok! You just need to allow yourself to think outside the box when it comes to meeting the needs of the kids you teach, and other teachers can provide you with helpful hints!
Use a Variety of Resources
Teaching the way you were taught may not be the best choice for your students. Going through the textbook page by page and doing the corresponding workbook page is not going to be as effective as presenting the material in different ways. By varying your approach to teaching the content, students can more fully grasp concepts through their learning style.
Textbooks have useful information, but there are so many more resources available and many of them are free. Also remember, researching information is vital to understanding, but putting into practice what you have found is the key to being effective.
Knowing useful information helps you, but teaching useful information helps others.
Don’t Try to Reinvent the Wheel
This goes hand in hand with using a variety of resources. Don’t think that you have to create everything from scratch to be effective. You can literally Google a topic and find a wealth of information. Use this to your advantage, and find great websites that can help you.
TeachersPayTeachers is my absolute favorite website for lessons and activities because I can search the entire database for a specific topic. Then, the only problem I have is deciding which resource to choose.
Get to Know Your Students
Being effective has everything to do with knowing your kids! I’m not talking about their names and addresses; I’m talking about knowing them as individuals. When we take the time to build relationships with our “kids,” they trust us, know that we love them, and realize that we want them to be successful.
These facts need to be communicated to them frequently, and this is even more important if you deal with at-risk students. I have had students whose parents were in prison, students who had to be a parent for younger siblings, as well as, students who had been up all night because the police were at their house. I could go on and on with these heartbreaking scenarios, but the reason I mention them is to remind you that we need to know our students and be aware of what their lives look like outside of school.
Our effectiveness, as teachers, isn’t measured by the score our students receive on a test; our effectiveness, as teachers, is measured by the impact we have on their lives. Kids aren’t just numbers; they are unique individuals that we have the opportunity to impact. Think about this, as teachers, we spend more time with our students than any other adult in their lives. It is up to us to do everything within our power to help them gain confidence and become successful. If we can accomplish that, then we are effective teachers.