I was reading a wonderful post by PalMD about hope in hopeless situations. It narrates stories to explain that how effective communication is important for a doctor when telling a patient about their health conditions. Although I am not a doctor and never had life and death situation in my work place, but the rule applies in teaching profession as well. You can easily motivate or demotivate a student from the way you talk. He comments
To be an effective physician, you must also be an actor of sorts; not in the sense of pretense, but in the way you pay attention to everything your words and body do, and how your audience reacts.
and I was thinking about the similarity with teaching. Many times after a very satisfying classroom experience, I used to feel like an actor who preformed well. I have been told multiple times that I am a good teacher, and I always felt that I was good in creating mood in class and setting up stage, making initial steps even before starting to teach anything. Once students are interested and motivated, it is much easier to teach them complex subject and teaching becomes a lot more fun. Here are some simple rules I used to follow while teaching, for anyone who is planning for a teaching career either in school, college or university;
- Prepare thoroughly. There is no short cut to this. Students respect to the teacher who has good grasp of their subject. Also, if you are well prepared, it is much easier to pay attention to student's reaction in the class and solve their problems in understanding the course material.
- Whether it is board teaching or power point presentation, your pace of teaching should be matched with majority of the class level.
- Effective communication is a two way process. Students should be able to approach to you with their questions without any hesitation.
- Know your students. As a teacher, you don't need to know all students personally but it helps if you know their first name and about their interest level in the subject you are teaching. I used to spent first few weeks trying to remember names of students, and it was very helpful throughout the course. It makes personal connection and instead of teaching mob, you starts teaching individuals. I have seen dramatic rise in awareness in students once they knew that I know them. It was also much easier to talk with them during the class if I noticed that someone is actually looking puzzled or distracted.
- Be comfortable and face your students all the time. Most ineffective teachers are those who face board or presentation screen all the time without making eye contact to students and without paying attention to reactions of students. Many times students don't say anything, but it is much easier to guess from their faces if they are following you or not.
- Authority. Yes, you should have full authority in your class. It should reflect from your body language and voice.
- and finally you really have to enjoy the fact that with your efforts you are bringing joy of a subject to your students. If you don't enjoy it, students sense it very fast and everything is lost.
Teaching is fun if you take joy in leaning of your students.