Attention, Class !! 10 Things Smart Teachers Do Differently


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Teaching requires skill and it is an art, in which a teacher is an artist, and the art is his/her students. Every teacher has his/her own way and technique of teaching which is different from other.

Good teaching is universal. Whether the topic is a new product launch, social studies, or a triple bypass, the same principles and many of the same techniques apply. Are you ready to learn? Grab a desk, and open your notebooks. Some teachers are too rough at the voice while some speak slow, some are too active while some are lazy. Some are good at explaining the concept, some teachers give good notes to students. However the teachers are, undoubtedly they are the manipulators of the world. They are the ones to own the world.

1. It's not about you; it's about them

Some teachers see themselves as the designated expert whose role is to impart their knowledge to students who are empty vessels. That's the wrong metaphor, says William Rando, who has been training college-level teachers for 15 years. The best instructors see themselves as guides. They share what they know, but they understand that they are not the focus. Their students are:

"It's hard for some teachers to understand that teaching is really not about them," says Rando, who runs the Office of Teaching Fellow Preparation and Development at Yale University. "There's something counterintuitive about that. But it doesn't mean that you don't matter. It means that instead of asking, 'What am I going to do today?' you ask, 'What are my students going to do today?'

2. Study your students

It's not enough to know your material. You need to know the people you're teaching, their talents, prior experience, and needs. Otherwise, how can you know for certain what they already know and what they need to learn? "I tell my teachers to imagine that someone called and said, 'I'm trying to get to Yale' " says Rando. "The first question you have to ask is, 'Where are you?' You have to know where the person is starting from before you can help him reach the destination. It may sound obvious, but as teachers, we sometimes begin the journey and forget to ask our students, 'Where are you? Where are you starting from?' "

3. Students take risks when teachers create a safe environment

Learning requires vulnerability, says Michele Forman. Students have to acknowledge what they don't know, take risks, and rethink what they thought they knew. That can be an uncomfortable and even scary-situation for anyone. A little warmth goes a long way, says Forman, the 2001 National Teacher of the Year. Like having a couch and floor pillows in one corner of the classroom. Or decorating the walls with her students' work, because "it" their space" The result is a learning environment that is emotional, intellectually, and psychologically safe.

"If they aren't feeling well, I make them a cup of peppermint tea. If they’re hungry, I feed them," says Forman. "It can be the simplest thing, but it sends an important message." Students need to know that they can trust the instructor. Hence, another Forman rule: No sarcasm in the classroom. "It creates the fear that you're going to make them look bad," she says.

4. Great teachers exude passion as well as purpose

The difference between a good teacher and a great one isn't expertise. It comes down to passion. Passion for the material. Passion for teaching. The desire is infectious, says H. Muir, global marketing training manager at SC Johnson, in Racine, Wisconsin. If the teacher has it, the students will most likely catch it.

5. Students learn when teachers show them how much they need to learn

Teaching adults has given Tom McCarty, director of consulting services at Motorola University, an appreciation for the old adage, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." Some of the people who show up for the Six Sigma continuous-improvement workshop aren't ready, because they don’t think they need to improve. They don't see the gap between where they are and where they need to be. Making them aware of that gap is one of McCarty's first objectives.

"Is your team aligned around customer expectations?" he'll ask. "Of course we are," one of the team leaders will reply. McCarty will then ask each team member to write down the top-four customer priorities and post them on the wall so that everyone can read them. "If there are 15 team members, you'll get 60 different priorities," he says. "Once they see that for themselves, they'll turn to me and ask, 'Can you help us here?' "

6. Keep it clear even if you can't keep it simple

One of the chief attributes of a great teacher is the ability to break down complex ideas and make them understandable. These days, the same can be said for business leaders, says Gary Grates, executive director of internal communications for General Motors. In fact, he says that the essence of teaching and learning is communication.

"The biggest issue that leaders face is whether people understand them," says Grates.

7. Practice vulnerability without sacrificing credibility

To some people, being a teacher or a leader means appearing as though you have all the answers. Any sign of vulnerability or ignorance is seen as a sign of weakness. Those people can make the worst teachers, says Parker Palmer, a longtime instructor and author of The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life (Jossey-Bass, 1997).

Sometimes the best answer a teacher can give is, "I don't know." Instead of losing credibility, she gains students trust, and that trust is the basis of a productive relationship. "We all know that perfection is a mask," says Palmer. "So we don't trust the people behind know-it-all masks. They're not being honest with us. The people with whom we have the deepest connection are those who acknowledge their struggles to us."

Acknowledging what you don't know shows that youre still learning, that the teacher is, in fact, still a student.

8. Teach from the heart

The best teaching isn't formulaic; it's personal. Different people teach Shakespeare in different ways because of who they are and how they see the world. Or, as Palmer says, "We teach who we are." The act of teaching requires the courage to explore one's sense of identity.

If you don't fully know yourself, Palmer says, you can't fully know your students, and therefore, you can't connect with them. People compensate by using clever technique until they figure this out. Maybe, he says, the jazz musician Charlie Parker put it best: "If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn."

9. Repeat the important points

If you want your employees to remember that new mission statement or market strategy, you need to give it to them more than once. "The first time you say something, it's heard," says William H. Rastetter, who taught at MIT and Harvard before becoming CEO of Idec Pharmaceuticals Corp. "The second time, it's recognized, and the third time, it's learned." The challenge, then, is to be consistent without becoming predictable or boring. The best teachers keep it fresh by finding new ways to express the same points.

10. Good teachers ask good questions

Effective teachers understand that learning is about exploring the unknown and that such exploration begins with questions. Not questions that simply lecture in disguise. Not yes-or-no questions that don't spark lively discussion. But questions that open a door to deeper understanding, such as, "How does that work?" and "What does that mean?" And GM's Grates's personal favourite, "Why?" "If you want to get to the heart of something, ask why five times," he says.

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