What students take away from a successful school day usually centers on a personal connection with a teacher who instilled passion and inspiration for their subject, not a bunch of random facts and information.
It’s difficult to measure success and teachers are continually re-evaluating how to make the learning experience better and how to reach more of their students.
Here are 10 things that successful teachers do on a daily basis to make learning fun and meaningful.
1. Have clear objectives and a sense of purpose
How do you know if you are driving the right way when you are traveling somewhere new? You use the road signs, maps or a GPS.
In the world of education, your objectives for your learners act as road signs to your destination. Your plan is the map. Making a plan does not suggest a lack of creativity in your curriculum but rather, gives creativity a framework in which to flourish.
We can’t all be blessed with “epic” workdays all the time. Teachers with a sense of purpose that are able to see the big picture can ride above the hard and testing days because their eye is on something further down the road.
2. Expect learners to succeed
Learners need someone to believe in them. They need a wiser and older person to put stock in their abilities. Set the bar high and then create an environment where it’s okay to fail.
This will motivate your learners to keep trying until they reach the expectation you’ve set for them.
3. Have a positive attitude and sense of humor
Negative energy breaks down creativity and can breed fear of failure. Good teachers have an upbeat mood, a sense of vitality and energy. Positivity breeds creativity. Humor and wit make a lasting impression. It reduces stress and frustration, and gives people a chance to look at their circumstances from another point of view.
4. Be consistent
Consistency is not to be confused with being stuck in your ways or stuck in a rut. Consistency means that you do what you say you will do, you don’t change your rules based on your mood, and your learners can rely on you when they are in need.
5. Reflect and seek out mentors
Successful teachers take time to reflect on their methods, their delivery and the way they connect with their learners. Reflection is necessary to uncover those weaknesses that can be strengthened with a bit of resolve and understanding. Reflective teachers can easily get disheartened if they don’t have someone a bit older and wiser offering support.
You are never too old or wise for a mentor. Mentors can be that voice that says, “Yes your reflections are correct,” or “No, you are off because….” and provide you with a different perspective.
6. Enjoy your job
It is easy to spot a teacher who loves their work. They seem to emanate contagious energy. Even if its on a subject like advanced calculus, the subject comes alive.
If you don’t love your work or your subject, it will come through in your teaching. Try to figure out why you feel so unmotivated and uninspired. It might have nothing to do with the subject, but your expectations. Adjust them a bit and you might find your love of teaching come flooding back.
7. Adapt to your learners’ needs
Classrooms are an ever-evolving dynamic organism. Depending on the day, the attendance roster and the phase of the moon, you might have to change up your plans or your schedule to accommodate your learners. As they grow and change, your methods might have to as well.
If your goal is to promote a curriculum or method, it will feel like a personal insult when you have to modify it. Make connecting with your learner your goal and you’ll have no trouble changing it up as time moves on.
8. Welcome change and explore new tools
This relates to the above tip, but in a slightly different way. Have you ever been so bored with your house or your bedroom, only to rearrange it and have it feel like a new room? Change ignites the brain with excitement and adventure.
Change your classroom to keep your learners on their toes. Simple changes like rearranging desks and routines can breathe new life in the middle of a long year. With the advance of technology, there are fresh new resources and tools that can add great functionality to your classroom and curriculum. Don’t be afraid to push for technology in the classroom.
It is often an underfunded area but in this current world and climate, your learners will be growing up in a world where technology is everywhere. Give them a head-start and use technology in your classroom.
9. Bring fun to the classroom and teach holistically
Don’t be too serious. Some days, “fun” should be the goal. When learners feel and see your humanness, it builds a foundation of trust and respect. Fun and educational aren’t mutually exclusive either.
Using humor can make even the most mundane topic more interesting. Learning does not happen in a vacuum. Depression, anxiety and mental stress have a severe impact on the educational process. It’s crucial that educators take the whole person into account.
You can have the funniest and most innovative lesson on algebra, but if your student has just been told his parents are getting a divorce, you will not reach him.
10. Give your learners emotional support and empathy
There are days when your learners will need your emotional support more than a piece of information. Connecting to your learners on an emotional level makes it more likely that they will listen to your counsel and take your advice to heart. Learners need mentors as much as they need teachers.
Also understanding your learner’s emotional struggles as well as what makes them happy, can help provide experiential scenarios to teach with. For example, using a love for soccer to teach geometry or kinetic energy.