Updated: Jan 28
As a teacher, you don't just impart information to your students — you can make a difference in their lives. But how do you go from being "just" a teacher to being an effective one? Teaching is one of the most critical professions in any community or society.
Let's cover five tips that can help you make a difference in the lives of your students and be more effective as a teacher.
How to teach effectively and make a difference in the lives of students
As a teacher, your one great responsibility is to make a difference in the lives of young people and prepare them for adulthood. It's no joke — some would say you have an obligation to make a difference in their lives. This, of course, requires all teachers to deliver powerful lessons that get through to students and ultimately get them excited about learning and reaching new levels of understanding. As it turns out, there are teachable tips and tricks behind this transformation from teacher to effective one.
Learn to adapt to a variety of students
When teaching, remember that every student is different. Some students will be more receptive to your teaching style, while others will need an alternative approach.
A teacher's job is a rewarding one, but it can be a stressful one as well. A teacher's day consists of several hours in the classroom with a group of diverse students. Some days are easy, and others are more stressful, as students may not be receptive to what the teacher is trying to teach. Teachers have to know how to adapt their teaching methods to make learning effective for each student.
A teacher's goal is to help students learn, not necessarily to make them like the subject being taught. Therefore, teachers need to know how to remain positive and enthusiastic even though some students may not be interested in what they're teaching.
Effective teachers are excellent communicators; they understand the needs of their students and can tailor their lessons accordingly. Teaching effectively isn't easy. It takes time to learn how to deal with diverse learning styles and personalities, but the rewards are worth it.
Wouldn't you love to have more successful students? And wouldn't you also love to have more time in your day? When you learn how to teach more effectively, you'll be able to reach every student in your class. You'll also free up time for individual guidance or extra help with those who need it most.
Understand your students' learning styles
Learning styles enable individuals or groups of individuals to benefit from different facets of learning.
Students learn in different ways and at different rates. As a result, most teachers use a combination of methods to reach all of their students. However, not all methods work for every student. The more you know about your students' learning styles, the better equipped you will be to reach each student in your classroom.
Knowledge is power when it comes to reaching students effectively. When you understand the learning styles of your students, you can offer them the best possible instruction and help them meet their potential.
Knowing how your students learn best will help you plan effective lessons and organize your classroom to maximize student learning. Understanding each student's style will also help you design differentiated lesson plans that challenge all learners while still meeting individual needs.
Adapting your classroom management techniques based on students' learning styles will also ensure that they receive fair and consistent treatment from an instructional standpoint.
Characteristics of eight different learning styles
Every student has a preferred learning style, which largely determines the teaching techniques that will be most effective.
Learning styles are determined by how each individual processes information. Some students learn best by reading, others by listening. Some learn by watching, while others learn by doing.
"Visual learners" generally prefer to take in information through pictures, images or graphs. They can often remember details better through visual connections than through word-based connections.
"Auditory learners" prefer to take in information through spoken words rather than written words. They usually learn best when they are spoken to directly rather than having material read to them or presented in written form.
"Kinesthetic learners" prefer to take in information through their bodies. Often these learners enjoy hands-on activities, but they can also benefit from physically writing out their ideas or solving problems with physical objects.
Part of knowing your students' learning styles is knowing your own style as a teacher. Are you an auditory learner? A visual learner? A kinesthetic learner? Being aware of your own style allows you to cater your teaching methods to the students' preferences.
You will be able to understand why some students respond well to certain activities and not others, and how you can help them gain the most from your teaching.
Make learning fun and interesting for them
The best way to make learning fun and interesting for your students is to understand their point of view. Take a moment to look at the world through their eyes. What are they interested in? What do they like? What do they think about?
You can use this information to guide your teaching approach. For example, if you know that students are particularly interested in movies, try to incorporate examples from the movie industry into your lessons. If you know students enjoy watching YouTube videos, consider using one as an educational tool.
If you don't know what your students are interested in, try asking them. You could also draw on other resources such as newspapers or magazines, or conduct an online search to identify topics that interest them. By targeting areas of interest, you're more likely to get their attention and keep it throughout your lesson.
Of course, it's not always possible to focus on student interests when planning lessons. However, you can provide opportunities for them to explore these interests independently while still working toward the goals of your class.
To teach effectively, you must know your audience's needs, interests, and abilities
You have a responsibility to engage your students and motivate them to learn. You can help them build a love for learning and understanding by making the topics relevant to their lives and teaching in an engaging way.
What do they already know about the topic? What would be most interesting and relevant to them? You can then use various instructional methods and strategies that will help you teach more effectively and inspire students' intrinsic motivation to learn.
The following two-step will guide you as you plan your lessons:
1. Know your students:
Who are they?
What do they already know about the topic?
Why am I the best one to teach this subject?
Do they like me? Why or why not?
2. Learn what is important to them:
What do they enjoy doing for fun?
What subjects do they like studying—and which ones do they dislike?
How can I make my lessons interesting and relevant to them?
How can I make the content of my lesson connect with their lives?
Ask open-ended questions that encourage students to share their thoughts and opinions; seek their assistance in analyzing problems; look for opportunities to involve students in activities that allow them to raise questions.
You need to connect with students both mentally and emotionally. In order to do this, learn how they think and feel. You can do this by learning about their personal lives and backgrounds, as well as the culture of the school in which you are teaching or tutoring. This will help you create lesson plans that make sense for your students.
Make them feel comfortable in your presence. For example, if you make jokes about student's ethnicity, it will make them uncomfortable. If they can't trust that they can talk about anything with you, then they will not open up mentally or emotionally.
Ask questions throughout the lesson so that it involves them in the discussion. You can ask them why something is important or why they think something works in a certain way. This is also helpful because it makes them think about the depths of what you are teaching instead of just studying what is presented on the surface.
Help your students learn from their mistakes
If you want your students to learn from their mistakes, give them feedback.
The only thing worse than making a mistake is having someone point it out to you. It can be even more disappointing if that person is your teacher.
A mistake might seem like just that — an error in judgment or an oversight. However, mistakes can also be opportunities for learning. There's nothing wrong with making mistakes as long as they're used as a chance to improve and grow from them.
In order to make the most of your mistakes, you need to see them as opportunities to learn rather than as judgment calls on your performance. How can you help your students do this?
Understand why mistakes happen. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and it's going to happen whether or not you want it to. The key is understanding why those mistakes are happening so you can prevent them in the future.
Looking at what caused the mistake and learning from it will help students avoid making those same errors later on. Instead of focusing on figuring out who was responsible for the mistake or trying to find ways to cover up the error, focus on identifying how the mistake was made and then finding ways for students to avoid making it again.
"I want to be a teacher because I think it will be fun and easy," said no one, ever. Teaching is hard work. It can be frustrating, stressful, exhausting, time-consuming, and sometimes even demoralizing. It's normal to have days when you feel like you're not making any progress or that your students are getting further behind rather than closer to mastery.
Some days it may seem like you're not having any impact on your students at all. But don't give up! Effective teachers strive to make a meaningful impact on their students' lives and helping them learn from their mistakes is key to doing that.
What do you usually do when a student makes a mistake? Do you call attention to the mistake or do you help move the learner forward? The problem with calling attention to mistakes is that it can create an environment of shame instead of one of growth.
Don't use shame as a motivator, because it rarely works! Instead, use mistakes as opportunities for learning by asking open-ended questions that start with phrases such as "what" and "how" so students have the chance to think about the reasons behind their errors. This way, they'll have a chance to identify what went wrong so they can get it right.
Inspire them to reach for the stars
Teaching is more than just passing along information to students; it's helping them learn how to think. When you get right down to it, the purpose of education is to empower students with knowledge and skills so they can make their own decisions and influence their own lives.
Every time you teach, you have the chance to impact someone's life. Teaching is more than just showing up and collecting a paycheck. It's about making a positive difference in the lives of your students, whether it's by helping them learn new skills or helping them develop their own abilities.
A teacher who is merely content with imparting information, deciding that their job is finished once the lesson is over, may be a good teacher — but they are not a real-deal teacher. That's because a real-deal teacher doesn't stop at providing information: they inspire their students to reach for the stars, to strive for excellence and to go after what they want with everything they have.
A real-deal teacher pushes their students beyond anything they thought possible; they help them find something inside of themselves that they didn't know existed. A real-deal teacher helps their students succeed where others tell them it can't be done.
Step back and remember how fulfilling this work can be
Being an effective teacher isn’t easy, but it does come with rewards. You can help shape the future development of your students. You can gain the respect and admiration of your peers. And most importantly, you will play an important role in the lives of your students.
Teaching is about not just imparting information to your students but also inspiring them to keep learning for years to come. Students may not remember every single thing you ever taught them, but he can certainly carry with him lessons learned from you even after graduation.
As a teacher, it's easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day elements of work. There is so much to focus on that it's easy to forget that you're not just imparting knowledge — you're making a difference in the lives of these young people. And every once in a while, it's worth taking a step back and remembering how fulfilling it can be when you do make that difference.