This is a collection of 21 tips for highly effective teachers that holistically work together to support higher student academic success.
1. Meaningful mindfulness
Teachers who actively engage in their lesson will succeed in transferring knowledge to students more efficiently and effectively. Meaningful mindfulness wastes less time in rehearsing knowledge with students and scaffolds learning better for declarative knowledge in long-term memory.
Teachers who are passionate about student learning are more likely to enjoy teaching. It’s the spark of joy when a student understands knowledge and can apply this knowledge. Watching student’s learn and grow is a satisfying accomplishment for teachers and it’s those moments we cherish in our career.
3. Sense of Humour
Without a sense of humour in any career, no one could enjoy their job. Sometimes it’s worth having a joke with a colleague or student to brighten their day.
Teachers who are fun, grab student attention and keep it for longer. Attention has a lot to do with input into cognitive processing. Being a fun teacher can also build positive relationships for collaborative learning.
5. Positive perspective
No one can be positive 100% of the time in any career, but flipping spiralling thoughts into positive perspectives will have a flow on affect into student learning perspectives. Smile and you’ll get smiles back. Create positive environments and you’ll get it back. Change perspectives and you’ll get positive perspectives back.
6. Willingness to try new things
Theories on teaching and learning change and it’s great to keep up to date with new practices and strategies to support student learning. Professional development or upskilling at university can open up different opportunities for teachers to learn and act out new learning practices.
7. Learn from their mistakes
This follows on from trying new things. YOU WILL MAKE MISTAKES when you try new things but taking risks is what learning is all about! Even senior teachers are still learning. It’s when we don’t learn that we should be questioning our self awareness to change. Change is getting out of our comfort zone. It’s hard at first but brings opportunities and rewards.
8. Begin with the end in mind
Outcomes based assessment is at the top of a successful teachers mind. Successful teachers start by looking at what the highest learning achievement criteria can be reached and work backwards on creating activities that will build skills in their learners to get students to that higher standard.
Highly successful teachers will collaborate with other teachers to gain understanding of what requirements are expected for learning. This is also a great time to have a mentor teacher you can lean on but not suffocate. Highly successful teachers also create a collaborative classroom environment for student discussion and invest time in networking and scaffolding conversations.
10. Dress to impress
No one rocks up to work in exercise outfits unless your the physical education teacher. Every school expects a level of professionalism from teachers and that includes first appearances. However, each school has different expectations of teachers. The main thing to think about is that you are comfortable. That itchy shirt might look professional but you could be thinking about how itchy you are all day and then that takes away from your meaningful mindfulness. Make sure you check with your schools standards before commencing work.
11. Plan for play
There isn’t always time for play but I can guarantee in those first few weeks of getting to know students there needs to be a small amount of time for play and being involved in that play. With older students it could be cards games or reading a book with little ones. Building relationships with your students is fun! Enjoy their personalities. The best part is you can help kids make friends when you’re inclusive.
12. Recognise when you can’t be everything
Now this can be hard to learn, but recognising where your strengths as a teacher lie will mean you waste less time in areas that aren’t fruitful. For example knowing your multiple intelligence’s like linguistic and musical doesn’t mean you’re going to be perfect at teaching technology or history. Knowing what our strengths are and using them well and accepting our weaker intelligence’s will give us the motivation to outsource knowledge and support.
Sometimes knowing when to step away from a group discussion and becoming a facilitator, supports peer to peer collaborative learning more than explicit teaching and learning.
Organisation and highly successful teaching go hand in hand like peas in a pod. If you aren’t a good organiser this could be a deal breaker. Most teachers will enjoy writing lists, drawing concept maps, planning and strategizing. The OCD teachers like to colour coordinate or categorise topics. These are my people…
15. Self aware of tasks they avoid
Self awareness comes with experience. Eventually with practice we realise that self reflection includes deeper meta-cognitive thinking. Ask yourself what am I avoiding as a teacher? Have you avoided special needs programs to integrate learning difficulties because it’s too complicated to understand? Is there a subject that you lack knowledge in? So you rush through the worksheets? Do you neglect self reflection because you’re just too busy? What task do you avoid? Write it down and start and action plan.
16. Integrate special needs
An inclusive classroom will always make special needs integrate easily. Children with special needs deserve to be treated equally to other students. A teacher who strives to understand their Learning Support Program (LSP) will plan activities to incorporate any adjustments.
17. Have high standards of achievement
Highly successful teachers will have high expectations of achievement. That does not mean that every student will be a grade A student. It means that they will expect commitment, self motivation and active engagement from students. Statistically, teachers with high expectations produce higher academic outcomes.
18. Consistency is key!
Keeping a consistent routine calms chaos. It gives students a regular working week and lowers stress and anxiety about the future. Routine helps student brains thrive in a safe environment.
19. Takes on feedback
Feedback promotes growth. Whether it’s lesson feedback, student feedback, behavioural feedback or teaching feedback it can be hard to listen too. Self regulation is quietly calming your inner reactive behaviour and taking time to think about feedback. Hearing another persons opinion can sometimes ruffle your feathers but when feedback is given in a caring way you can end up feeling enlightened. If you’re giving feedback, I suggest the sandwich approach: positive, negative and then positive. I’ve heard people say 2 stars and a point to work on. Give more examples of positive affirmation and then a suggestion spoken in a positive but realistic way.
Reflecting is a meta-cognitive process. You must allow time and find a quiet uninterrupted space to have an internal dialogue with yourself. This is a healthy form of decoding your lessons, unit plans and teaching strategies. Theorising why you teach a certain way is your pedagogy. Highly successful teachers follow through with making time for reflection. Skipping reflection only prolongs your learning journey.
21. Leave teaching at the door
I’m a teacher who was the daughter of a teacher. I can tell you that growing up with teachers meant that they were pretty tired of having that age group all day and coming home to that age group. There is no break from conversation. I also know that as an early childhood teacher I have to REFRAME my brain when I walk into my own home with little ones. Take a moment to think about their day and become mindful for my own family. Sometimes it’s easier said then done, but remind yourself when you see your door that it’s time to put on a different hat and leave your work ideas or stresses at the door. At least till your own children go to bed.
If you have enjoyed reading this article you might also like to view our NEW professional development MASTERCLASS! It’s called TEACH SMARTER. Teach Smarter aims at helping teachers understand the process of cognition and metacognition to use in transformational teaching and learning.