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How to study your students for better teaching

Updated: Nov 27, 2021



The first years of teaching are notoriously stressful. You've got a ton of new things to learn, students who don't know how to behave, and piles of paper to mark. There are some easy ways that you can study your students for better teaching because with all that stacked against you, you're going to need better teaching. Here are helpful tips that will have you teaching like a pro in due time.
Enjoy your students as an extension of yourself, because if you want to be great at teaching, bring out the best in everyone you work with.

Whether you are just starting out or have been teaching for years, it feels like there is always something to learn.


Although most teachers are knowledgeable about their subject, they are not always successful with their students. Therefore, no one can really say that they know everything there is to know by this point in their career.


There’s a lot to consider with teaching. You deal with all kinds of personalities:

  • extroverted and introverted,

  • highly motivated and unmotivated,

  • curious and uninspired

But if you take the time to learn your students as an extension of yourself, it becomes easier. Here’s how to enjoy your students as an extension of yourself so that you can bring out the best in everyone you work with.


Observe the way your students behave in different situations to learn what motivates them

Study your students and their behavior and reactions to different classroom activities and you'll learn a lot about what works and what doesn't.

As a teacher, one of your greatest assets is the ability to figure out what makes each student tick. If you know what drives your students, how they learn best, and what they struggle with, you can tailor your lessons to make sure that every student gets the most out of your class.


Pay attention to your students' behavior in different situations. You can gain invaluable insight into them.


For instance, if you notice they act differently in the classroom than they do at home, this may suggest that they are more comfortable with you than with their parents.


Also, if they act differently in the classroom than they do on the basketball court during basketball season, this may show that what motivates them is not simply playing, but rather interacting with other people.


Pay attention not only to how your students behave but also to what they say. By listening to their words and watching their body language, you will be able to gain insight into what is most important to them and what motivates them.


By understanding these things, you can design lesson plans that are meaningful for each student and tailored for their needs and interests.


Talk about your students with other teachers to get a sense of how they think

Attempt to talk to as many teachers as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can trade intel with dozens of teachers over the course of a school year if you know how to ask the right questions.

Once you know your students well, you'll be able to relate with them better, and they'll feel more connected to you.


One way to get to know your students is by talking with other teachers in the school or in classes that are like yours. For example, if you teach in a high school, talk to teachers in middle schools.


Talk about what you're doing in class and exchange ideas for dealing with students who give you trouble. Find out what works for other teachers so you can try their techniques in your classroom, too.


You might even find another teacher who has the same types of students in his or her class as you do in yours.


To build this relationship with another teacher, try offering to cover a class when the other teacher is absent. This will give him or her an opportunity to see your teaching style and how well it works with the other students.


If there's a student you're having trouble understanding, ask another teacher if he or she has had success making that student understand material better. It's also a good idea to talk about how well your students do on tests and quizzes and then ask if other students have similar test scores.


Keep an open mind


Having a more positive outlook on your students' ability to learn can help you become a better teacher. Here are some ways to look at your students with a more positive attitude:

  • Talk with other teachers about their experiences with the same group. Find out if they've noticed any patterns you can use to help you find what motivates your students and how they best learn.

  • Solve problems with your students. When you work together, you'll get to know them as individuals and be able to make specific plans for how to help them achieve success in your class.

  • Talk to students one-on-one. You can identify their concerns and interests and better understand where they're coming from and what they need from you as their teacher.

  • Keep an open mind. It's important not to jump to conclusions based on stereotypes or preconceived notions about people's abilities or background.

There's no such thing as a "bad" student — only bad teaching, so keep trying new things until you find something that works for each student in your class."


Study your students' personalities, and how they work with others, during class activities

Knowing your students and learning about their personalities can give you insight into how they work and what motivates them.

What is personality?


Personality is one's characteristic mental and emotional patterns of behavior, thought, and feeling. It includes an individual's unique responses to internal or external stimuli.


Study personality for yourself and you might reveal that, among others, the different dimensions of personality include extroversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.


Extroversion:

  • Extroverted people tend to be enthusiastic, talkative, assertive, energetic, and sociable.

  • They derive great satisfaction from interacting with others and tend to enjoy large social gatherings.

Agreeableness:

  • Agreeable people are accommodating, friendly, generous, helpful, and trust-worthy.

  • They look for ways to settle disputes peacefully;

  • they are typically soft-hearted and tender-minded.

Conscientiousness:

  • Conscientious people are organized and dependable;

  • they like structure and order;

  • they like to plan ahead;

  • they follow the rules;

  • they value achievement and productivity;

  • they pay attention to details;

  • they can often seem inflexible or stubborn.

A student's character can influence their learning. Some students are naturally driven to work harder, while others struggle to kick it out of neutral. Some students are more social and enjoy working in groups, while other students prefer to work alone.


Developing an understanding of your students' social personalities can help you tailor your teaching methods to your students' learning styles. Consider the following three types of social personalities:


  1. Personalities that engage with ideas and others: These socially-oriented people enjoy group discussions and class activities, but they also tend to be passive listeners. They care about their abilities, but they may need encouragement to take part in the classroom.

  2. Personalities that focus on action: These people are more task-oriented than idea-oriented. They may not enjoy classroom discussions as much as others, but they are driven to succeed and will try hard if given clear expectations and feedback.

  3. Personalities that connect with people: Emotion rather than intellect drives These individuals. Engaging this type of personality requires an emotional connection before challenges can be presented.

In classroom management, teachers with a good understanding of their students' personalities and how they work in groups tend to have more positive experiences than those who don't.


This shouldn't surprise anyone — knowledge, used rightly, is power, and the ability to better understand the people you're working with can help you achieve your goals.


Teachers don't become good at their jobs overnight


Someone naturally gifted some teachers at helping students learn, but the best ones have experience and practice.


There's a lot you can do to become a better teacher, but there's no substitute for hands-on experience. You need to know your material and how to explain it well.


The best way to develop those skills is by teaching, and outstanding teachers never stop learning about their subjects and how they can explain them more effectively.


Here are some tips on what makes a skilled teacher:


  • Know your material deeply. If you're not enthusiastic about your subject, it will be hard to inspire your students with that same enthusiasm. That doesn't mean you have to be an expert in every subject you teach, but the more familiar you are with the material, the easier it will be for you to relate it to your students

  • Communicate concepts clearly. Teachers who use simple language and simple examples tend to be better received than those who use complex terms or difficult explanations. A good teacher makes complicated ideas easy for their students to understand

  • Empathize with students. Teaching is about more than just imparting information; it's about guiding students through the process of learning that information. Students feel like they're being guided through the process of learning rather than just lectured at when you have honest empathy for them.

Teachers don't become good at their jobs overnight, so it's important to keep up with the latest teaching strategies to make sure you're doing everything right for your students. There's no shortage of information there's too much information out there for teachers to keep up with every new trend, every new study, and every new teaching strategy.

There are few jobs that require more preparation than teaching. Like doctors, lawyers and other professionals, good teachers have invested years in their fields of study.


After they finish the school year, they spend countless hours learning the latest theories, methods and techniques in order to better educate their students.


Stepping into a classroom for the first time can be daunting. New teachers are often unsure of themselves or unsure of what they need to know to be successful in the classroom.


But even if you're a veteran teacher who's been in the same classroom for years, there are many areas where you can improve your skills.


Becoming a good, effective teacher takes time and experience. This is true for most teachers. If you've been in the classroom or on the other side of it for a while, you'll know that the skills required to be an effective instructor require constant work and attention.


With the right strategies, anyone can improve their teaching. The key lies in your ability to learn from your students.


Over time, you’ll naturally adapt what you teach to better suit students. That process can be slow moving if you don’t have the right strategies in place. However, when you look at some tips we addressed above, they can help speed up this learning curve considerably.


With these tips in mind, hopefully you are on your way to being a better teacher. If so, why not share with others? If everyone around us was an effective teacher, it would lead to a more positive world for all involved.

 



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