The first years of teaching can often be the toughest. During the early years of their career, newly qualified teachers often experience a plethora of emotions, both good and bad. Here, New Directions Education offers advice to new teachers as they come to understand what it means to be responsible for a classroom of impressionable young people.
- Consistency is king. Good teaching is all about consistency. Great teachers grind away in what can be a challenging environment with classroom rules that are referred to consistently and with the ultimate fairness. Pupils may not like your rules at first and some children will try to rebel against the standards you set, but if you are consistent and persistent, they will learn to respect you and the balanced environment you create.
- Plan ahead. If you know you will need paper copies or equipment for a lesson, do not wait until the last minute to prepare them. In the same vein, if you would like to run a practical lesson which requires parental permission, follow and become familiar with school procedures in advance. If you fail to follow these procedures, you will not only look unprofessional but also risk the safety of both yourself and the children you are responsible for.
- Learn through enjoyment. As Albert Einstein said: “That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you do not notice that the time passes.” At a time when young people are quite literally full of life, it is imperative that they enjoy school as much as they learn from it. Using a bit of imagination and creativity – cello tape, cereal boxes, water, craft materials; even simple paper can transform your lessons. The balance between enjoyment and learning can be difficult to get right, but if you can do this your pupils will reap the benefits.
- Stop, look And listen. Every so often, it is important that you stop and assess exactly what your pupils have learned in a lesson. This can be done in simple, informal ways; a show of hands or a 5 minute on the spot quiz, for instance. If a student does not know the answer, pose the question to the class and then go back to the original student and ensure their understanding has improved. Research shows that this method helps the whole class to learn; everyone stops, looks and listens.
- Relationships matter. In most classes pupils spend hours with their teacher but in reality, they actually spend little time speaking directly to them. In order to help each and every one of your class to learn, it is important that you develop your knowledge of their personalities and abilities. You need to understand the nuances of their character: who they work well with, subject matter they struggle with and books they enjoy reading for example. All of this information connects to successful learning -the better you know the students in front of you, the better you can help them to learn.