“Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best.” - Bob Talbert
Teaching, regardless of what you teach, is far from a piece of cake. Between the complicated process of becoming a teacher, preparing lessons, correcting exercises, and disciplining students, you can’t just become a teacher overnight. Whether you’re teaching in a state or independent school, there are some things that you should know.
Becoming a teacher is tricky so here’s Superprof’s guide to teaching in primary schools, secondary schools, colleges, and private tutorials.
How Do You earn Your Students’ Respect?
Teachers looking to work in schools in England require Qualified Teacher Status. To get this, most teachers in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland will study the PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education). In Scotland, they can study the PGDE (Professional Graduate Diploma in Education).
Once you’re qualified and found your first teaching job, you’ll have to earn your students respect. Here’s how:
- Adopt a firm attitude at the start and become more flexible as time goes on.
- Alter the tone of your voice for impact.
- Remind students of the rules, especially if students are close to breaking them.
- Understand your subject and always stay up-to-date.
- Plan your lessons and course well ahead of time.
- Use interesting teaching resources.
- Warn or punish students if necessary.
Being a good teacher requires a good understanding of pedagogy and the subject you teach. While courses like the PGCE can teach you a lot about teaching approaches and classroom management, you’ll start to understand it all once you spend time in the classroom.
Punishments can help manage students, but you’ll want to use them as sparingly as possible if you can find other ways to get everyone to behave. Similarly, certain punishments won’t be allowed or recommended by the school.
Keep Your Students Engaged with Interesting Lessons
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” - Henry Brooks Adams
Just completing a PGCE won’t necessarily make you an excellent teacher. To be an excellent teacher, you need to teach interesting and educational lessons and inspire your students to learn.
Some schools aren’t necessarily the ideal places to do this. The curriculum and the red tape can make life difficult for teachers looking to teach interesting and engaging lessons.
The best lessons are those that inspire students to learn more about the subject, but not every class will be a winner. To ensure that most of your lessons are interesting, try to use a variety of useful learning resources.
Complement your teaching with a variety of audiovisual resources like pictures, videos, and even audio. If your classroom is equipped for it, make use of it.
Plan your lessons around the resources you have available and how you can effectively integrate them into your teaching. Just make sure that they add something to the lesson. Whether you’re a teacher at a primary school, secondary school, college, or university, the resources you use can help make your lessons more interesting.
As a teacher, you can make your lessons an enjoyable experience for the students while also ensuring that they learn. As you gain experience, you’ll have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t.
Whether you’re teaching in a primary school or secondary school, you may have to dish out punishments to students who are misbehaving. Of course, you’ll want to punish students as infrequently as possible.
From nursery to university, teachers will have to occasionally punish students that don’t respect the rules or do the work required of them. In addition to teaching students about certain subjects, teachers also have to teach students how to behave in class while respecting the teacher and their classmates.
Students are often punished for:
- Breaking the rules in class.
- Disobeying a teacher’s instructions.
- Disrespecting teachers, staff members, or students.
- Using or possessing dangerous items or substances on school grounds.
- Physically or emotionally harassing other students (bullying), teachers, or staff.
Punishments can be a useful way to nip problems in the bud before they become much worse. Of course, it’s not just the teachers who can punish the students, school management including the headteacher can also punish students.
Students can also be excluded or expelled if they continue to break the rules. Most schools don’t want to have to do this to students, but they’re sometimes left with no other choice. In some cases, a student may be a risk to their classmates or teacher.
“There is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.” - Albert Camus
There’s no point in punishment if it doesn’t help the student. It needs to be appropriate, teach the student that their behaviour is wrong, and encourage them to behave better in the future.
Appropriate Attire for Teachers
Most teachers will have quite a few rules to follow, including a dress code. Whether you’re working in state-supported schools or an independent school, there may be certain clothes that you can and can’t wear.
Teachers, especially those working in secondary schools, may be judged more on their appearance and presentation by their students than how well they teach. A teacher needs to think of the impression they give their students.
“Intelligence is like underwear. It is important that you have it, but not necessary that you show it off.” - James Dent
Generally, teachers will want to wear clothes that look professional. Similarly, they might want to avoid flashy or distracting clothing. Unless the dress code is really strict, most of this will be at your discretion, but just be smart about it.
If you have any doubts, it’s a good idea to check with management to see what they’d prefer you to wear. Generally, suits, shirts, and moderately formal trousers are accepted. In some cases, even jeans are allowed, depending on the school. Some teachers will need to wear clothes appropriate for the subject they teach, especially if they’re teaching PE, art, woodwork, etc.
Remember that somebody’s subjective opinion of the way you dress can’t affect your position, i.e. you can’t be sacked just because someone doesn’t like your outfit if it follows the dress code and is appropriate. However, you can make your life easier with students and management by dressing sensibly and not trying to make a fashion statement every day you come into work.
Unfortunately, it remains more difficult for women than men when it comes to being judged for what they wear. This means that female teachers may have to spend more time thinking about what they wear and whether or not it’s appropriate, even though they shouldn’t have to.
Generally, it’s a good idea to discuss with management what you can and can’t wear and also keep in mind how your students react to certain outfits, too. You’d be surprised how much what you wear can affect how your students behave and how they see you as a teacher. Your clothes can also affect how you feel and wearing clothes you feel comfortable in can allow you to focus more on teaching.
Hopefully, this has taught you a bit more about being a teacher. To learn more, check out our other articles.
If you'd like help with teaching, you could always look to private tutors. On Superprof, there are tutors for a large variety of subjects as well as those who specialise in teaching or pedagogy.
There are different types of tutoring available so you must consider the pros and cons of each before you decide which would work best for you and what you want to learn.
Face-to-face tutoring is excellent if you have specific things you want to learn and work on as the tutor can tailor every lesson to you. These tutors tend to charge more than others as they spend extra time outside of the lessons planning and adapting their resources to the student. However, this also makes them the most cost-effective type of tutoring because every minute of the lesson is spent working with you.
Group tutorials are great for those on a budget as the cost of the tutor's time is shared amongst several students. This does mean that you won't be able to get lessons that are tailored specifically to you, but if you're looking to brush up on your subject, for example, this type of learning approach could be very useful and affordable.
If you can't find any suitable or available tutors in your local area, you can always broaden your search to include private online tutors from all over the country and the world. As long as you have a webcam and a decent internet connection, there's no limit to how far away your tutors can be.
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