Tips for teachers: How to teach more effectively

  • The whole essence of teaching is to impart knowledge. Thus, a teacher fails when his/her students fail to comprehend what he/she teaches. Whether or not your students understand your subject has nothing to do with what you teach; rather, it has to do with how you teach. Put differently, no subject is difficult or impossible to teach; it all depends on the teacher.

    If your students find your class/subject difficult or uninteresting, blame neither the students nor the subject—don’t say, oh, mathematics is always difficult, you should know. Rather, check your teaching style. Most likely, you’re getting it wrong.

    Here are some tips you can follow to make your teaching more effective and interesting:

    Plan adequately

    Because you have been teaching for a long time doesn’t mean you should rely on some outdated lesson notes and not prepare for classes again. Plan well, update your lesson notes. Knowledge is not static; so your lesson notes mustn’t too. Treat every class as a unique engagement and make plans on what you want to teach, how best to teach it, the time to use, what you want the students to get at the end of the lessons, and how to assess the students effectively. Spencer (2003: 25) opines that ‘One of the most important (principles of good teaching) is the need for planning…’ as it ‘…provides a structure and context for teacher and students, as well as a framework for reflection and evaluation.’

    Know what you’re teaching

    You can’t give what you don’t have; it’s a fact. So, you must read and understand your subject very well before you can teach it well. Update and upgrade your knowledge and (teaching) skills regularly. Remember, other things being equal, the educational standard of your students is directly dependent your knowledge and skills as a teacher. So, always try to raise the bar.

    Be open to questions and criticisms

    Make the class comfortable enough for your students to ask questions. Questions remain one of the best means to know whether or not your students comprehend your subject. An effective teacher doesn’t feel challenged and uneasy when students ask questions. Don’t assume to be a know-it-all, provide the answers to the questions immediately if you can and if you can’t, tell them you will make further research on the questions and get back to them. Also, you can ask them (the students) to research on the questions too.

    Familiarize yourself with your students

    If you treat your students as strangers, you become too distant and they find it difficult to connect with you. Connect well with your students, know them by their names and understand their nature/learning preferences/styles.

    Make your class interactive

    Learning should be collaborative; it's not a one-way thing. Carry your students along while teaching. Don't just be the only one doing the talking. Remember, you're not a newscaster. In addition, your lesson notes should be interactive too—make it relational. It’s a lesson note, not a textbook. Avoid copying and pasting directly from the textbooks, it’s unethical. Make the notes simple and concise, your students already have textbooks to supplement the notes.

    Be likable

    Make your students like you without necessarily going out of your way. This is very important. If for whatever reasons, your students hate you, chances are that they won't enjoy your class and will find your subject very difficult.

    Explain with familiar objects

    If you explain unfamiliar things/concepts with what the students are familiar with, they connect more easily with what you’re teaching and find the class interesting.

    Got more teaching tips to add to the list? The comment box below is open for you!

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