There is no definite answer to the question: what makes a teacher successful? On the contrary, there are multiple approaches to teaching, and each teacher uses a unique method to pass knowledge. Rather than following a predetermined teaching style, teachers choose methods that fit every situation. Nevertheless, teachers must live by certain codes and principles in order to become successful in their profession. Here we go!
Simple Rules for Every Teacher
- Act in the best interest of your students.
The first priority for a teacher is the student. The second priority is the student. The third and the fourth is the student. Before engaging in any teaching activity or making any decision, ask yourself whether the thing that you are about to do will benefit your students now and in the future. If you are in dilemma, make no decision – consult. Ensure your action serves the best interests of your learners.
- Build robust relationships
One of the key principles of success in teaching and learning is creating meaningful relationships in every situation. It is important to develop empathy, trust, and tolerance with one another in the staffroom. Moreover, a teacher should build strong relationships with peers, administrators, parents, and students. This will make teaching easier, enjoyable, and worthwhile.
- Develop clear rules and expectations
Savvy teachers always set clear standards and expectations for their students and colleagues. This will ensure that there is a clear professional boundary between the teacher and other members of the school community. Be firm and consistent with the decisions you make.
- Act fairly and consistently
One mistake that teachers often make is to undermine their own authority. If you set a rule, it should not only be fair and just, but also consistent and meaningful. Your students will watch out for any disparity in your judgments, and they will not cooperate if you do not act fairly and consistently in every situation.
- Set a good example
This goes without saying. It is obvious and absolutely necessary. You cannot preach water and drink wine. If you tell your students not to drink alcohol and go to class drunk, no one will take your word seriously. Show the young people the right way, they will follow obediently and diligently.
- Always have a plan
A clever teacher will always prepare for every storm, even a nonexistent one. Do not go to class without preparing for the lesson. Have a lesson plan, and include in it a buffer measure just in case the method you intend to use becomes undermined by students or circumstances. Use your students’ feedback and opinions to craft a plan that will meet their interests and needs.
- Keep learning, keep growing, keep going
Our teacher used to tell us that a teacher is a standing learner. True. You can always learn from your colleagues, students, parents, books, and the internet. When you notice something peculiar in one or more of your students, try to understand the underlying behavior through research or by asking other teachers. You can also approach the student and wittingly gather information from them that can help. A teacher can also learn a new way of teaching from fellow teachers. There is an approach known as collaborative teaching where two teachers teach one class. One sits down with students and the other teaches in front of the class. The sitting teacher gets one or two teaching tips from the standing teacher. You can also ask parents about their children to get to know them better, and research methods of addressing each individual learner uniquely.
- Do not export your problems to the learners
I read somewhere that a teacher should always leave their problems at the door or anywhere outside the classroom. I agree. The students have problems of their own, why should you add yours? When angry or sad with something in your life, you rather not go to class than pour all your anger to the learners.
- Engage parents
As a teacher. Always remember that the people you are teaching are not your children. There is someone called a parent, who loves and understands those kids more than you do. Therefore, you should engage them in every step of the child’s learning.
- Be kind to yourself
Some teachers take risks while teaching. It is good, but be careful. Do not put yourself in compromising situations that you could avoid. If any action or decision seems to undermine your career, keep off! Unless you are acting in the best interest of your learners. For example, a male teacher may be approached by a female student for libido favors. That will neither be good to you nor to the student. Tread carefully big champ!
- Relate well with the administration
It is good to respect authority if you are a teacher. The school administration has a lot of responsibilities, and you must support them as a teacher to realize the dream and objectives of the school. This does not mean that you should accept everything the administration does or decides. Sometimes you can challenge them, but you do not have to cause chaos. Give reasonable suggestions in a positive way without raising your voice or emotions.
- Take responsibility for your actions
There was a day someone asked me to file their returns. I agreed to do so without pay. However, I messed up and entered wrong figures, which could only be corrected at the tax offices. I had the option of leaving it at that – after all I was not paid for it. But I decided to take responsibility and went to the tax offices, where I spent the whole day queuing to be served. I just had to do it. As a teacher, you must accept that you are human, and you can always make mistakes. When you err, do not run away. Face your challenges and correct your mistakes like a grownup.
- Know your students
When I started to teach for the first time, it was difficult for me to know all the 50 students in my class by name. I felt frustrated about it because I wanted to know each one of them so that I can understand their uniqueness and individual needs. With time, I got to know all of them. It is good to know your students, not just by name, but also in terms of personality, performance, and background. This will help you understand their behaviors, needs and learning styles.
- Be a good listener
The value of listening supersedes that of talking. You cannot talk sensibly if you don’t listen. In school, people talk all the time. Do you take time to listen to each one of them? Sometimes an important idea goes into thin air without your notice because you have been talking when you were supposed to listen. Your contribution will be more meaningful if you listen to what other people have to say, including the school principal, colleagues, and students.
- Be a good shepherd to your students
Your students always depend on you more than you think. I remember one time when students came to me and requested me to write a letter to their class teacher saying that I was with them when they missed class. They are girls. I am a male teacher. I was in dilemma. On one hand, I know that the students really depended on me to save themselves from punishment. On the other hand, I knew that the girls deserved punishment for not attending class. My point is, why did the students come to me instead of 10 or more other teachers? Sometimes students just rely on you. They should not rely on you to avoid punishment, but at least they should know that you care for them and that you will always be there for them.
- Trust your colleagues and seek their advice
Fellow teachers can be a valuable resource in your teaching career. When you are stuck with something, do not assume that other teachers don’t care or that they don’t understand. No matter how wise and intelligent you are, there is someone in the office who knows something that you don’t know. Every teacher brings unique knowledge and experience to the staffroom. Work together, share stories and materials, and laugh together as much as you can. There is a Kalenjin proverb that says, “A metal sharpens another metal.” Sharpen one another so that you can grow together professionally.
- Be positive and approachable
If no one comes to you for help, scrutinize yourself. Be open to new opportunities and new challenges. When a student comes to you for help, be ready to support them even if you don’t know how to help them. Just show your concern. If you are not able to answer any of their questions, just tell them to give you time to look for the answer. When you promise something like that, be sure to deliver on it. That will make your students trust and respect you.
- Be the cheerleader
A teacher should always be an encouragement to their students, not a disaster. Some teachers are goddamn demoralizing. When the student is not able to answer a question they say, “You are Useless.” No! Just say, “That is a wonderful way of thinking but…” A responsible teacher always tries to motivate his students and supports them to achieve their goals. He or she coaches and guides learners to follow the right path, and recognizes every little effort from their students.
- Do not embarrass your students
Never make demoralizing comments or embarrass your students in front of their peers. This will create a rift between you and them, and they will lose interest in your subject. Do not be the reason for your student’s poor attitude and academic failure. If you want to punish or correct a student, it is better to do so privately rather than embarrassing them in front of their peers.
- Enjoy your work
Teaching will be easier for an educator who is having fun with their work. As a teacher, I often find myself singing in class, and the students sing along with me. It makes the class lively and exciting. Things can be messy in class sometimes, but don’t handle it with broom and stick. Turn bad things good with a smiling face.
- Provide feedback
Whether to your students, peers or administration, feedback is very important. Feedback enables the student to know where they went wrong and how to correct their mistakes. Positive feedback also encourages learners to continue doing good things and putting more effort to get more commendation.
- Eat Apples
A good teacher apples. Sweet apples come from the students. I don’t literally mean that you should request your students to bring you apples. Not at all. What I mean is that you should establish positive relationship with students by accepting their gifts, sharing things with them, and getting close to them – but remember to maintain professional distance.
Teaching as a profession requires ethics and values. Teachers should follow basic rules that will make them happy and successful. Basically, teachers should put the interests of learners ahead of their own and relate well with all stakeholders of the school.