How to be a better teacher: 18 ideas from students, part 2

September 11, 2015 , In: TEACH

How’d you go applying the first four ideas?

Last time, I promised you the next five tips on how to be a better teacher, straight from our clients – our students!

Allow me to over deliver today and hit you with the next seven, as shared by eight, nine and ten-year olds from my class!

5. Don’t get angry straight away

How fitting as the end of term draws near! How’s your patience going? Getting angry at the first sign of disobedience or when students fail to grasp a concept not only makes them afraid of you as a teacher, worse, it makes them afraid of failing.

Making mistakes is part of learning so be patient with your students and with yourself.

6. Give chances

Give your students a chance to shine, a chance to rise up to challenges and take responsibility, a chance to say that they don’t understand something, a chance to question, and disagree with you.

Give them a chance to prove that they can learn from mistakes, a chance to make you laugh, a chance to challenge your thinking, a chance to amaze you and inspire you.

7. Let children be creative

Encouraging creativity is letting the kids use their imaginations to invent, to create. When and how can we do that? So many ways! For creating stories, you may have heard of Rocket Writing or 5-minute Writing. Students’ main focus for a full 5 minutes is to create a story, without worrying about punctuation or spelling. You don’t mark their work for those things, you don’t mark them at all! Instead, you give the class time to share and enjoy their creations!

Another way is to have open-ended projects. This term, our whole team is ending our Integrated Studies unit with students’ creating a board game. The project is hard work with researching and making the game elements but guess what the students do when they see ‘Integrated Studies’ on our timetable?
They cheer! They absolutely love the freedom to invent.

8. Be funny

Do you know people who memorise jokes? Or those who are always so full of life that everything they say seems to be funny? I’m neither. I think I’m funniest when I don’t try. So how can we ‘be funny’ if it’s not in our personality? My suggestion is to allow others to be, laugh when something is actually entertaining. You can have a few moments of giggling and still get through your lesson.

Just today as my students saw we were learning about Martin Luther, one boy matter-of-factly asked, ‘Ooooh – is he Lex Luther’s brother?’ It was funny. Laugh and let laugh.

9. Don’t stress

I think this starts with awareness. What stresses you? Make a list and challenge yourself to be wary of those factors. Next time one comes up, smile and pause. Do you really need to make big deal of this? Is this worth stressing about? A stressed teacher makes for a stressed class.

When I was young I used to comfort myself in stressful situations by asking, ‘Will this matter 20 years from now when I’m a Mum with three kids?’ Don’t sweat about things that are out of your control or those that won’t really matter in the long run.

10. Work as a team

My school does this incredibly well which I hope to write more about in a future post.

We have within class ability groups, which I am a huge fan of. Through these, I know that I am teaching each child at their point of understanding and need. But planning four lessons because you have four different groups for almost all the subjects is not an easy gig. Quite impossible really, if you’re doing it alone. So we work as a team.

If your school does not have a team culture, why not get one started? Meet with like-minded colleagues or convince those who don’t think it’s necessary by showing them the benefits. When you share the planning around, it gives you more room and time to create exciting and effective lessons. Students also get a taste of different teaching styles as other teachers will choose different ways and resources to teach a topic.

11. Model and encourage –

My student’s actual words were, ‘Sit with us and show us how something is done, do an example and encourage us to try the next one.’

Do you know the origin of the word ‘assessment’? I didn’t when our uni lecturer asked us one day. Its Latin root ‘assidere’ means ‘to sit beside’. My student’s idea on how we can be better teachers captures what it is to truly assess!

Are you sitting beside your learners? Do you show them, not just tell them?

how to be a better teacher

Stay tuned for the final installment of ‘How to be a better teacher: 18 ideas from students’.

In the meantime, remember and practice:

5. Don’t get angry straight away
6. Give chances
7. Let children be creative
8. Be funny
9. Don’t stress
10. Work as a team
11. Model and encourage!


What classroom practices have you tried that apply these teaching tips from students? I’d love to learn from you.

Please comment below and if you haven’t already, subscribe for free to receive email notifications on new blog posts.  

Missed something? Here’s Part 1 and Part 3.

Questions and comments

  1. Pingback: Para professores…especialmente infantis!!! | Aulas Particulares de Inglês

  2. Reply

    Am praying more people specially those in the teaching field will be able to read this and apply what is being imparted. God bless and may He continue to guide you in all your endeavors.

Rachel Herweynen

Teacher & Traveller

Alive because of Jesus - a teacher, traveller and wife of a photographer. I write to learn, to help and to be thankful.

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