Teaching Strategies: How to Become a Great Teacher to Influence Students?
Teaching is a noble profession with a lot of responsibility and modern teaching strategies played an important role to inspire the kids. It is not a clock-in and clock-out kind of job, rather it requires you to work long hours and be mentally resilient to succeed. All teachers inspire to be influential and be that one teacher who the students will remember forever.
Some of the biggest difficulties faced by us teachers, in terms of inspiring students, are the large classrooms, limited resources and many students to teach at once. Sometimes we fear we will not be able to have a lasting influence on our students. The student-teacher relationship not only influences academic performance but also how students succeed in life.
Before we discuss the different ways to become a great teacher and influence students, first let us look at some reasons that lead to uninspired students:
- Busy and overworked: when the teacher feels overwhelmed with the amount of work to do and the number of students to teach, the class atmosphere can turn tense and more robotic and focused on getting the lesson finished instead of learning and being inspired by the teacher.
- When a teacher feels incompetent for any reason, be it less experience, a difficult group of students or the lack of knowledge about a subject; the general result is that he or she will exert their authority in class to compensate for the lacking. And the lesson will turn into a lecture instead of collaborative learning.
- No passion: For teachers that do not love the subject they are teaching, it can be difficult to be inspiring. Such teachers treat teaching as a 9-5 job. Not having your heart in teaching is a major cause of uninspired students.
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How to influence students and inspire them?
In this article, you’ll find pointers to help you become a great teacher and influent students. So keep reading to learn what you can do as a teacher to influence students in a better way:
- Modify lessons according to students lives
For a teacher, the goal is always to make the lesson unique and interesting for the students. The best way to influence the students and make sure that they will remember the lesson you teach in class is to relate the textbooks to their everyday lives. If you are a dance teacher, choreograph a routine that is ‘viral’ or well-liked by students in your class instead of some old ‘slow dance’ production that kids won’t be as excited for. Even if you teach math or poetry, relate it to the current situations. Your influence on them will last longer if you can accomplish this. Openlessons.ed.au and edweek.org have tips for educators to make lessons relevant to students.
Petti LaBelle, Grammy award winner, credits her high school teacher for keeping her family situation in mind while teaching. The teachers’ dedication led LaBelle to overcome great challenges.
- Be creative
Use fun new ways to teach. Introduce concepts using the technology available; do experiment more than reading the textbooks and discussing concepts theoretically, the best way for practical learning is by introducing STEAM Education in the classroom. If possible take the students on a field trip to the lake if you want to teach about the ecosystem of the lake. Use craft paper and 3D models available in the classroom so students can understand rather than cram the lesson. Brithishcouncil.org and psychlearningcurve.org have wonderful ways for teachers to be creative in designing lessons and influencing students.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is well known for influencing students all over the world. His accomplishments are in great part due to his creativity in delivering lessons.
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- Encourage students
A little encouragement can go a long way. Teachers can have lasting influence by using kind words and encouraging students to step outside their comfort zone. Motivate students to follow their passions and discover themselves by giving new activities a try. For quite students especially, kind words and encouraging personal attention can lead to lasting influence. Ask questions in class to build the confidence of students. Wgu.edu and Kaplan have step-by-step guides to encourage and influence students to discover themselves.
James L Farmer, a known civil rights activist, credits his accomplishments to his teacher who was always very encouraging.
- Believe in them
We hear stories of students inviting their kindergarten teachers or high school consolers to their professional accomplishments & celebrations, such as the first art show or the opening of their first restaurant. Believe in your students by verbally appreciating them and showing your support in their ventures. Display their clay models in your classrooms and showcase their art projects. Your support as a teacher can influence the students in a big way. Kqed.org and youcubed.org have approaches you can use to show students you believe in them and positively influence them.
Brian Williams, a news anchor, credits his teacher for inspiring him by showing interest in his work.
- Respect the students
Understand that respect goes both ways. If you want to be respected in the classroom then show respect to the students as well. Respect their opinions by encouraging open conversations about the topic at hand. That way you not only teach students academics but also a valuable life lesson that will help them grow and influence their personalities. Listen to them, provide feedback while appreciating the students’ efforts and celebrate their growth. Ascd.org and education.gov.gy have tips for teachers to do various activities to promote mutual respect and influence the lives of students.
Oprah Winfrey thanks her 4th grade teacher for showing her how to respect her intelligence and voice from a young age.
- Be human but remain professional
Be transparent and real; maintain professionalism while creating an atmosphere that encourages students to be open with you. Teachers that have the most influence in their students’ lives are those that can be human, who can laugh at themselves and are not shy about their flaws. Laugh with your students while maintaining a professional boundary between a teacher and students, you can do that by being firm and not letting the easy-going-atmosphere ever get out of hand.
Straying from the lesson plans now and then isn’t too bad. If something major is happening in the country or the world, if it’s the super bowl or NBA finals and you have sports enthusiast in your class then have a 10 min conversation and encourage their viewpoints as well. These casual and human conversations are welcomed by most students. Teaching Channel, tomprof.stanford.edu and eric.edu.gov discuss methodologies for teachers to be personal with students while maintaining a professional distance.
Andria Zafirakou won the 2018 global teacher award due to her highly positive influence on students. She would get personal with the students by greeting them in their native tongue.
- Ask about their lives
This is in continuation of the previous point. For influencing students, try to be a mentor to them instead of a teacher who only delivers lessons in the classroom. Learn the names of your students, go to their extra-curricular and say ‘how’s it going’ when you pass them in the hall. Sing happy birthday to your students and celebrate them every day so they can learn to celebrate themselves. Being personal with students is an art you can perfect over time. Evergreen.edu and apa.org are informative resources with tips about this approach to influence the students.
Bill Clinton’s teacher has a special role in the Presidents life. He supported his students by understanding the struggles in their personal lives.
- Set an example with your behavior
Since students spend half the day in school, your behavior directly influences their attitude. If there is some behavioral aspect you want the students to practice, model it in your behavior. Speak kind words, appreciate diversity, encourage growth; use words but more importantly show it in your actions for students to learn. You never know how many students look up to you and are picking up your personality traits. Very well mind and experts from Michigan state university have tips on how to model your behavior as an example and influence students.
Maya Angelo, a renowned author, was heavily influenced by her teacher, who encouraged her to read more by going to the library.
- Let the students have choices
For the sake of influencing students to be creative and critical thinkers; create an atmosphere that appreciates the students in your classroom. It is no secret that as humans we love to have control over ourselves, so give your students the freedom to choose some of the lessons, experiments and activities they want to do. High school teacher Joe Ruhl shared in his Tedx talk how he makes ‘activity menus’ that students can use to choose the kind of learning they want. That way the students learn all the recommended lessons but have more control over how. This leads to better understanding and lasting influence on students. Edutopia.org is an online resource you can check for more information on student freedom.
Narada Walden was given the choice to join the drama club in high school that led to his success as a singer songwriter. He credits all his accomplishments to his high school band teacher.
- A true passion for the subject
When the teacher is passionate about a subject, it transcends into the students and they get excited about it as well. A teacher having a good understanding of a subject can teach better by using different concepts and giving real-life examples rather than simply reading the textbooks. Bsd.education and greatergood.berkeley.org are helpful resources to reignite your passion for teaching.
Richard Feynman won a Nobel Prize in physics and wrote the most popular physics books ever written, that influenced a great many physicists. His passion for his subject is what made him an influential teacher.
The bottom line
The best way to inspire and motivate students is to give them respect and treat them with professionalism. Let the students choose the activities you’ll do, the drills you will run in the PE class or the science experiment you have to do in the lab. Collaborate with them to encourage long term learning, set up the atmosphere of the classroom that promotes creativity and critical thinking. Giving students some space and respecting their mindsets is what will make you an inspiring and motivating teacher that students will remember forever.
Now if you want your students to be positively influence by you so they can become the next Oprah Winfrey or a President of the country, then follow our tips to influence your students and be a great teacher. Share it with your co-workers so they can also influence the lives of students!