So you want to be a high school teacher? This is a job that can be equally rewarding and stressful. Teaching high school is much different than teaching younger children, especially if you are teaching at a large school. Conceptualizing plans for every aspect of teaching will help you start off your new career on a solid foundation.Here are seven valuable tips for beginning your new life as a teacher and finding success along the way.
Transform Your ClassroomMolding your classroom into a unique environment has many positive rewards for teachers. Posters, a library, furniture, plants and more can be used to provoke curiosity. A personalized classroom also bolsters your authority as a teacher, and makes you memorable. Students get the message you are serious about teaching. Don’t forget to check in with your school’s principal before remaking your room—the school might have rules about redecorating.
Master Classroom EtiquetteThe way you speak, stand, sit, give directions, dismiss class, and discipline students’ needs thoughtful consideration. Don’t plunge into your first year without developing a clear strategy for your classroom etiquette. Develop an etiquette guide for students as well as yourself. How will they address you, or take a bathroom break, or answer the classroom door? Many of these things might depend on school policy, but some classroom etiquette guidelines will be left up to the teacher’s discretion. Although you want your students to like you, don’t start off the year by being too laid back, or kids will take advantage of you and might not take the class seriously.
Organize InformationClarifying and streamlining your teaching materials for yourself as well as for students goes a long way towards positive results in the classroom. Organizing information includes techniques to make what you write on the chalkboard easily understood. It also includes putting thought into how tests are arranged for students. An organized teacher will have to do less explaining, which will leave more time for teaching. On the first day of class, you can explain where things can be found, how you organize your information, and the way the classroom will work so that the students know what to expect for the rest of the year.
Become a PoliticianEvery school, no matter how small, has an internal political dynamic. It is crucial new teachers learn the art of political persuasion to get the most out of the institution they serve. Fostering a smooth working relationship with your school janitor can be just as important as being on good terms with the principal. While you shouldn’t form insincere bonds merely to get ahead, it is good to get to know people—make sure important members of the staff recognize your face and name. The sooner you can integrate yourself into the school, the easier it will be to rise as a distinguished staff member.
Balanced LearningBalancing fun with structure keeps students engaged. Too much structure and not enough fun tends to drain away student curiosity. Eagerness to learn can be quickly eroded in overly strict learning environments. The same is true of the reverse. Too much fun and not enough structure might win points with students, but it is toxic for learning. Once again, make your intentions clear on the first day. Let the students know that you are serious about tests, due dates, and proper classroom behavior, but that you want to make the learning process exciting for them. Students appreciate a teacher who thinks outside the box—just remember that an easy class doesn’t help the teacher or the students.
Emphasize the GoodAlways remember to emphasize the good that your students do. It is easy to get wrapped up in disciplining or correcting students who are struggling in one way or another. You may have to call their parents more often to discuss issues, but let parents of difficult students know about good milestones as well. Recognize students who might feel discouraged—often times these kids will shut down and stop trying. Give the class encouragement as well as discipline. Just like a balance between learning and fun in the classroom, a healthy balance between instruction and inspiration will help your students to stay the course and finish strong.
A good teacher has to juggle roles. Successful teaching means becoming a clever interior decorator, an expert in behavior, a master of social skills, a life coach, an effective politician and more. The reward for mastery of these roles is worth the effort. How many other professionals get a chance at shaping young minds? The information for this article was provided by the professionals at the University of Cincinnati, who offer a masters degree in education.