I’ve been teaching for a few years now and there have been many ups and downs. There were times when my class would get out of hand or there would be an incidence that needed dealing with right away and at times I was prepared and during others, I was less so. However, what I’ve found is that being a teacher is about much more than simply telling a bunch of facts to your students. Teaching is about expressing your subject in a way that your students leave thinking it’s as awesome as you do. It’s about getting them excited and wanting to learn because learning new things is awesome!!
Teaching isn’t easy by any means. There’s a lot of work and the students can break your heart sometimes, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Yes it’s hard starting out but it does it easier, trust me. Have a read through the following keys, I think you will be glad you did.
1. Be weird, be different, be funny and be memorable because it’s a proven scientific fact that kids remember memorable things more than unmemorable ones. I’m sure my kids will always remember me creating giant fireballs using methane bubbles to demonstrate combustion while few may remember my awe inspiring talk on cellular organelles.
2. Push through the politics, bureaucracy and other crap we deal with as teachers every day. You are a teacher, you are there for the students so don’t let the powers that be get you down. You know what you’re doing, you know what works and what doesn’t. Be your own person and teach because you love it.
3. Don’t take things personally. This includes underachieving and poor behaving students. Regarding those who underachieve, don’t feel like a failure, learning goes both ways. You can only present the material the best way you know how, it’s also up to the students to do their part. If you’ve done everything you can, provided every opportunity to help and still your student fails, don’t take it personally because you can’t force someone to learn. Secondly, poor behaviour can sometimes be attributed to an outside factor like a difficult home life, being bullied, peer pressure or maybe the kid is just having a bad day. Consider these things carefully before you take something to personally.
4. Continually innovate, stay updated, mix things up and always try to think of how you can improve. This can mean coming up with a new and exciting method of teaching/assessing and/or keeping up on the happenings in your field. If you’re still teaching that humans contain 40 chromosomes or that the U.S.S.R. is the greatest threat to world peace, you need to do some research. Also, try some new technologies in your classroom like iPad’s or perhaps give the flipped classroom a chance.
5. Love what you do. You have the most amazing job in the world. You get to educate young minds and shape who they are to be. I’ve met some incredible kids during my career and they’ve told me I’ve made a difference in their lives. Keep that in mind when you’re wading through the choppy and uncertain waters at school or struggling to get that first teaching job.
6. To take a phrase from the TV show How I Met Your Mother, “BE AWESOME” because excitement is contagious. Learning can be fun but it’s your job to make it so. Make passionate learners out of your students and teach them that school isn’t about learning thousands of useless facts they will never use, it’s about discovery, innovation and creativity and hopefully, learning something new and amazing.