Saturday, November 12, 2011

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Teaching Strategies

Being an effective teacher requires that you have a variety of skills, including being able to manage and organize your classroom, connect with your students, provide activities that are engaging, understand individual learning styles, and so much more. When these aspects come together, they create a learning atmosphere that is fun and rewarding. The modern classroom does not come with an instruction manual, and oftentimes teachers learn alongside their students when it comes to improving their teaching strategies.

Organizing Your Classroom

Facilitating the learning process is easiest when your classroom is well organized. The old adage, "a place for everything and everything in its place" rings ever-so-true when it comes to classroom organization. Before the beginning of each school year, organize all of your supplies, equipment, desks, smart boards or whiteboards, displays, etc., and update your organizational scheme throughout the year. Your desk should be well organized as well so that you can quickly find everything that you need.

Manage Your Classroom

Classroom management can be a big concern for many teachers, especially those who are new to the profession. It is difficult to teach if there is disruptive behavior in the classroom, but there is a fine line between being Mrs. Push-Over Patterson and being overly authoritarian with your students. While you want to be somewhat permissive and yielding, you certainly don't want your students controlling the class and you. Discipline has a direct correlation with trust, and students often misbehave more when they do not feel connected with their teacher. Which brings us to the next tip...connecting with your students.

Connect With Your Students

One of the most rewarding parts of teaching is connecting with your students, and although it sounds difficult, it doesn't have to be. Building trust between you and the student is the formative aspect of connecting with the student. Listen to what they say, and remember what they say. Engage them in simple small talk, and be fair and consistent with all students. And never pick a teacher's "pet". Choosing favorites or giving preferential treatment to one student or a group of students will alienate the others in your classroom.

Take Continuing Ed Classes

Most states now require that teachers take continuing education classes in order to keep their teaching credentials current, so taking classes that will introduce you to new teaching techniques can sometimes help to improve your teaching strategies. You might also check to see if your local university or community college offers any workshops on teaching strategies - which are often free or low cost.

Observe Other Teachers

Collaboration with others teachers can be invaluable, and you can actually learn a lot by observing other teachers in action. Much like the days when you were doing your "student teaching" before you became certified to teach, you should listen, observe, and take notes about how other teachers handle their classrooms and present their lessons. You should also ask a trusted teacher in xour school to observe you as you teach in order to gain insight into anything that you might be doing that is negatively impacting your effectiveness; be open to constructive criticism.

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