A ‘satchel’ of things successful teachers do differently

24 June 2020

A ‘satchel’ of things successful teachers do differently

As the saying goes, ‘you are never too old – or too young – to learn (something new)’. It is said that Michelangelo, the famous Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter and architect, said at 87, “I am still learning”.

Another saying goes: “You are never too young to teach… and you are never too old to learn.”

Looking at the qualities and characteristics of a good teacher every once in a while, whether it’s googling online, talking to colleagues or reading subject-specific matter, can prove to be beneficial to you and your career.

A check list for teachers to mull over and/or tick off for themselves:

• Do you adapt to change in the classroom when needed? This includes adapting to the needs of individual learners.

• Do you greet learners before you start your lesson? Research has shown that when teachers ‘meet and greet’ at the beginning of a lesson, learners are motivated to do better in class because they acknowledge the personal interest the teacher has in them.

• Do you have a positive attitude? Is your glass half full or half empty?

• Do you bring enough fun to the classroom and the learning process?

• Do you use your imagination when preparing lessons and setting tests?

• Do you engage with learners in such a way that they get to know you?

• Do you engage with learners in such a way that they feel as if you know something about and care for each individual?

• Do you enjoy teaching? It’s unlikely that everyone enjoys their job 100% all of the time but enjoying what you do on the work front in general leads to more productivity and an overall sense of well-being. Research has also shown that it leads to improved motivation, fewer mistakes and sounder decisions.

• Do you explore new educational tools that you can use in your classroom? Do you keep abreast of what is happening in your subject and in the curriculum? Do you ensure that you know where the focus lies in recent exam papers? Do you take part in professional development?

• Do you consider yourself a master of your subject(s)? Do you work towards becoming a master of your subject(s)?

• Do you have a sense of humour? It makes life – and teaching – easier and more enjoyable if you do!

• Do you praise your learners often enough? Do you use praise authentically?

• Do you know when to listen and when to ignore?

• Are you consistent in the classroom?

• Is your classroom environment or classroom climate warm, respectful, welcoming and supportive of learning? Do you create a safe environment in the classroom where learners are not afraid to make mistakes?

• Do you give emotional support to your learners when needed?

• Do you reflect on how you teach and how you behave in the classroom?

• Do you occasionally ask your learners for ideas that can be implemented in the classroom?

Depending on how your day at school went, you will tick more, or fewer, boxes at the end of a particular day depending on whether it was exhausting or uplifting. Thus it is advisable to work through this list – with a mug of coffee or cup of tea in hand – every once in a while.

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