Any adult who is considering becoming a teacher should ask themselves “WHY?” Have you considered the challenges you will face teaching the youth of today? Are you doing it because you want to be a positive influence in a child’s life?
A great teacher is someone who inspires and understands each student. A great teacher leaves a positive impression on another person’s life. By either words or by example, the student will always remember a great teacher and emulate the positive influence that was made on them!
Having said that let us now venture into the dark side of the classroom; the classroom of my youth, where I learned to disrespect the authority of both teachers and administrators. Why you may ask? Well read the following examples and you may find yourself nodding in remembrance!
“The teacher’s pet” trap; one of two things will happen; the child who is perceived to be the chosen one is either teased and tormented by the other students and/or that child is able to power trip over their peers and learns an important life lesson about sucking up. You will also have the rest of your class feeling angry and rejected that you, the teacher, favor one child over the rest!
Some people find public speaking difficult. While it is a great thing to learn at school, let the students start on material that they are comfortable with! Have them begin in small groups standing before their peers telling jokes. Allow them time to get used to the idea, before grading on their own material and presentation skills.
My personal pet peeve is the good old “Pick on the student who obviously doesn’t know the answer, stand up among your peers so they will perceive how dumb thou is.” This will not encourage a student to work harder to learn the subject; it will just embarrass them and does damage to their self esteem, not to mention gives their peer group ammunition to use at recess. Consider instead using the students written answers to determine their individual grasp of a subject. Not knowing the correct answers could be a sign that the method in which you are teaching is not being understood!
Do not have kids at the blackboard who don’t want to be there. Let the ones who do go! Or better yet make sure the student has the correct answer worked out. It is not very nice being ridiculed by the whole class for making a very public mistake!
Acknowledge that some children are going to be great at some subjects; praise individually. There is always something you can say that is positive. E for effort should count for something! Again don’t center out one as being better than the rest! Children will notice who never gets praised.
When it comes to class groupings for study groups, assign the students beforehand. If you allow them to choose amongst themselves the unpopular kids feel even more isolated. Some kids need to prove themselves based on their individual merit, not because of how nice their clothes are, or how attractive they seem to be on the outside.
Make “show and tell” something that all your students will be able to meet on a common ground. Don’t allow “show and tell” to turn into look at the great toys I have! Consider instead realistic things that cannot be purchased at a store, and that the majority of students have access to!
Some people find public speaking difficult naturally, while it is a great thing to learn at school, let the students start on material that they are comfortable with! Have them begin in small groups standing before their peers telling jokes. Allow them time to get used to the idea, before adding on their own material.
Not every student is going to come from a perfect home, the typical working dad and stay at home mom is a thing of the past. Many children today have issues to deal with that were unheard of 20 years ago. Get to know each student as an individual. If you need to speak to a child privately do not announce it to the whole class, be respectful of their need for privacy. Children can be very harsh and judgmental. While an adult would feel pain at a child’s sorry plight, their peers may not be quite as compassionate! Set up an in class mail box or morning hand out and encourage them to send you a note if they are having a problem; be understanding of their need to want to fit in with their peers!
When it is time to interview with the parents, be sure to balance the good areas and the need for improvement areas; include a positive comment for every negative. Explain how they can help and have concrete evidence to back up your concerns. Don’t say the same thing to every parent; put some effort into your interview and remember who you are speaking to, if you want cooperation from the parents don’t act like you are the supreme authority on what is best for the student!
Allow fun and humor into your classroom. It is possible to make learning fun for the children, but it means you have to go outside of the traditional box. Wouldn’t it be great if all the children in your class wanted to be in school every day because YOU made it fun!