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Five stellar ways to make a difference in the classroom: advice for teachers

Updated: Jan 27, 2022

Whether you’re a new teacher or a veteran in the classroom, you want to do your best for your students. But how do you make sure that every minute you have with them counts? While there are no shortage of suggestions on how teachers can improve, there is little time and resources available to put them into practice. For five tips on how to make a difference in the classroom, see this article.

As teachers, we want to be the best version of ourselves for our students. It can seem overwhelming at times, but there are some easy changes you can make in your classroom that will have a lasting impact.


These 5 suggestions aren’t hard to implement, but they will make a difference.


1. Having a positive attitude

Your attitude is contagious, which means it can spread to and affect the people around you. If you’re positive, then that positive energy will spread to the people around you. If you’re negative, then that negative energy will spread to the people around you.

Every day provides teachers with opportunities to help their students and improve their school. Here are some tips that can help you make a big difference in the classroom and beyond.


The key to being a successful teacher is to be proactive. Don't wait for problems to happen; instead, anticipate them and work hard to ensure they don't arise.


Be a positive role model and role model positive behavior. When you're in front of students, it's important to be friendly and approachable. Be sure to have what the college professors call "an open door policy," where your door is always open so students can feel free to come in and talk with you.


Encourage students to take an active role in their education by asking them questions in class and allowing them to participate in hands-on activities.


Be flexible about how you teach class material. If there are ways for your students to learn more effectively, find them! For example, if a student has trouble understanding what you've written on the board during class, ask if he would be more comfortable taking notes by hand or on his laptop computer.


Consider using new technology such as podcasts, videos and online lectures that go along with the textbook your class is using so that all of your students can benefit from supplemental information.


2. Consistency is key


The power of consistency is one of the most important skills you can incorporate into your teaching style. Consistency helps build trust, establishes routines, and develops positive relationships among students and teachers.


Sympathetic discipline involves consistency. When you are consistent in your expectations and responses to student behavior, it makes it easier for students to learn what is expected of them. Consistency also helps to reinforce the standards you set for your classroom.


Students need consistency in order to develop trust in their teachers. If students know exactly what you expect from them each day, they will be able to better anticipate your responses to their behavior.


Consistency also helps students learn how to manage their time. Predictable routines allow students to prepare for changes in the schedule or for transitions between activities. This kind of preparation allows them to respond more effectively when unexpected events take place in class or on the playground.


Effective classroom management relies on consistency and clearly defined rules. Students need to understand what is expected of them, and teachers need to be consistent in their responses when students' behaviors go outside those boundaries.


3. Don't be too hard on your students

Don't be too hard on your students. Be hard on yourself. The only thing you can change is yourself.

When a student is struggling, it's tempting to focus on all the ways in which that student has failed to live up to your expectations.


How can I teach this kid if he doesn't even care? How can I motivate this kid when all he does is goof off? How can I get this kid to put his phone away when he'd rather text his friends than learn?


But the problem isn't with the students; it's with you.


If a student is failing your expectations, it's because you have somehow failed to communicate what those expectations are (or they don't know how to meet them). And if a student isn't motivated, it's not because they're lazy — it's because you haven't provided them with the resources or inspiration to be motivated.


In other words, teachers are often their own worst enemies when it comes to getting the most out of their students. It's human nature; we all have an innate tendency toward negativity and pessimism, and it's easy to let that seep into our teaching. But instead of seeing your students as problems that need fixing, try seeing them as people who need help getting where you want them to go.


4. Teach your students to learn independently

Teach students how to learn independently. The most successful people are those who learn how to learn on their own. They’re able to educate themselves with the information they need to know and they do it quickly.

One of the most influential factors in a student's learning success is how they learn. This factor is often overlooked, but it's so important to their growth and development.


Help them learn how to learn…


The most successful people are those who can learn on their own. Teach your students how to be independent learners and they will gain valuable skills that they will use throughout their lives.


It’s not just a matter of being able to find information but also how fast you learn it and how long you remember it. There is information available at our fingertips all over the world, but if you don’t know how to access or absorb it, it won’t do you any good.


…and help them develop good study habits…


The best way for students to retain information is to use it right away, whether it’s working on classwork, applying what they learned in an exercise or test or even just chatting with a classmate about a lesson.


Also, when they have time between lectures or other class meetings, encourage them to work on enriching assignments that require more than just reading material.


Teaching students how to learn independently allows them to retain more information. They are able to self-assess and therefore continuously improve, rather than relying on someone else to give them the answer.


It also allows for more time for other activities within the classroom, such as labs, VR and AR field trips, extracurricular extension activities, and much more.

In order to get students to learn the way they need to learn to make a difference, teachers may have to change the way they look at their role in the classroom.

There are many ways to teach students how to be independent learners. The following are some tips that have worked for teachers like us:

  • Encourage independent learning by modeling it for them.

  • Provide opportunities for students to work alone on projects and assignments.

  • Set up a station where students can go to get help from peers or you if they need assistance with something they're struggling with on their own. This will reduce your workload while also allowing students the opportunity to learn how to seek out assistance as well as give it when needed.

  • Have students help teach each other by forming study groups with partners or small groups of 3-4 people who can help each other with different subjects.

Make learning fun with games and activities


As a teacher, you are likely always looking for new ways to engage your students. Teachers know how important it is to keep students happy and interested in their studies so they can learn new things and truly experience the joy of learning.


Here are some things you can do that will help make a difference in the classroom:


Get Away from the Lecture Method


Lectures might be boring for both you and your students. Rather than just lecturing at your class, get interactive with your lesson plan and try using games as part of the way you teach.


This might seem like a lot of extra work, but it makes your lessons more interesting for everyone involved. It also keeps students from becoming too bored, because they're always involved in something new. You can use this technique when teaching new material or summarizing what you've already covered in class.


This won't only help teach students what they need to know; it will also help them remember it much better than they would have otherwise. By playing games with your students, you're bringing a lot more fun into the classroom and making learning something that everyone enjoys doing.


There's no doubt that teachers can make a big difference in their students' lives. Working with kids is challenging and rewarding, but there are lots of ways to make it even more rewarding — and far less work.


Use games


Many children learn from games, so incorporate them into your lessons whenever possible. There are several different types of educational games available that cover various topics, including geography, science, math and reading skills.


One type of game asks the players for answers based on what they're seeing in the game; another types of game makes players think about how to accomplish certain goals within the confines of the rules.


When playing these games, students are learning while they're having fun — and their memory retention will be greater than if they'd simply read a chapter or did practice questions in a workbook.


The creative classroom is a productive classroom — and it's also a fun one. Do you have a creative side that might be useful in the classroom?


Here are some ways to use your talents to help you keep things interesting:

  • Create a game or activity to help students learn.

This requires creating rules, designing the game, and determining how winner will be determined. You can use this as a reward for students who deserve special attention or recognition.


One teacher was inspired by his favorite board game, Monopoly, and created a version of the game that could be played with dice and cards. The same principle can be used to create any fun learning activity, from bingo games to trivia games.

  • Bring in an interactive prop for lessons and activities.

A prop can make you memorable and add some pizzazz to the classroom. For example, it could be an animal, like a lizard; a plant; an unusual object; or even something silly like a clown nose.


The point is that once you begin using props during lessons and activities, you'll find them easier to incorporate into your curriculum than you would have thought possible before trying it out.


Being a teacher is a job that requires an incredible amount of patience. While some students make it easier for you to teach them, there are others who make it difficult for you. Some students are always late to class, others don't pay attention and still others just don't seem to be interested in school at all.


And then there are the students who are so excited about learning that they're bursting at the seams to get as much information from you as possible. They've taken your advice and found ways to incorporate it into their lives outside of school, too.


They're the ones who ask thoughtful questions and have insightful comments because they genuinely care about what they're learning.


When you have a student like this in your classroom, you know that teaching can be incredibly rewarding. And when you have several of them, well, that's even better!


Conclusion

There's no shortage of tips on how to improve as a teacher; however, unless you have the time and resources to put them into practice, they're simply not going to happen. So you'll have to make room for what matters.


Good teachers are mindful of what they are doing and why, so keep that in mind as you go about your daily job. Be a bit self-reflective, and think about how you can build on your strengths while working on the areas of improvement.


Use the tips above to spur conversations with peers and colleagues, reflect on them yourself, and — most importantly—practice relentlessly.

 

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