It has been said, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” This statement could not be any further from the truth. It takes a real passion and a joy of learning to be an effective teacher. I have spent most of my adult life working with children in one capacity or another. I would like to share with you some of the insights I have learned along the way. The most important thing that I have discovered is that even as a teacher, you never stop learning. Some days I am not sure who has learned more, me or the students.
It Takes a Village
I have learned that the most valuable resource that you have in the classroom is your parents. It truly does take a village to raise a child. It is so important to partner with your parents and to make sure everyone is on the same page. Encourage your parents and give them the tools they need to help their children succeed. Sometimes you need to educate not just the kids, but the parents as well. The more information that you give your parents, the more equipped they are to help their children outside of the classroom.
Empathy Is Everything
Being a parent has given me a lot of insight on how to be a good teacher. When dealing with a parent or a child who is having difficulty, it is always important to put yourself in their shoes. As a parent, you do not want to be constantly bombarded with how awful your child is. In most cases, when a child is having trouble the parents already know because they are dealing with the same behaviors at home. Look for positives that you can share with parents. Sometimes giving a child self-confidence and praise for small victories goes a long way in helping them to do better.
Really Get to Know Your Students
The best teacher that I have ever worked with, was such an excellent teacher because she took the time to truly get to know the kids and their families. She made it a priority to understand the reasons behind their behavior and struggles. She understood that what worked for one child, might not necessarily work for another. Each child has their own unique abilities and learning styles.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Trust me, they are always watching. They may not always be paying attention when you want them to, but they definitely are when you wish they weren’t. The most effective way to teach children is to be the person you are trying to help them become. Show them what good manners and social skills look like; mirror for them what it means to have a healthy lifestyle and good work habits.
Make It Fun and Make It Last
Even after being out of school for over fifteen years, there are some things that I have learned that I will always remember. I will never forget making my frog dance during biology dissection (I am pretty sure my lab partner, who was a little green, won’t either), dropping an egg from a fire truck ladder and praying the container I built would protect it, or the doves I brought home from science class who spent the entire weekend keeping my parents awake with their mating ritual. Why do these things stick in my head? Because they were fun and I got to be an active participant. The more hands-on a lesson is, the more likely they are to remember it.