A former client recently became a full-time professor.
She messaged me last night to ask me if I had any words of wisdom to pass along. She wants to be an effective teacher. Makes sense. Because otherwise, why bother, right?
She’s nervous. I get it. Being new at a craft is both exciting and daunting.
I messaged her some tips that I think will serve you as well, whether you teach or mentor as a parent, leader, in a classroom or a hospital room. These teaching tips work even when you’re teaching or mentoring outside of the classroom, simply change the classroom to your venue and try it on.
I’ve also included a link to some free resources to support you when teaching others.
Key Ingredients to be an Effective Teacher
Clean Up Your Thoughts
Think thoughts that evoke the emotion you want to have – the emotion that will serve you well as you plan and teach.
Thinking negative thoughts about the content or students will result in negative outcomes.
Likewise, if you want students to be energized and to connect to the material – begin by having thoughts that energize you, thoughts that connect you to the material. Your emotions will transfer to your learners.
Because who doesn’t want the person teaching them to be energetic and enthusiastic?
The research shows that students want to feel connected in the classroom – connected to the teacher as well as other students.
Group learning is effective and fun. (Note how I didn’t say group projects:)).
Working together in the classroom or clinical setting to solve a problem, create a case study, answer a quiz … develops a connection between classmates and can improve learning.
Yes. Students want a multimedia format to learn.
Images, podcasts, clips of videos, case studies rather than straight lecture. There are appropriate times to lecture, for sure. But defaulting to talking AT students in a straight lecture format does not result in deep learning.
In fact, it’s a disservice to you and your learners. It’s boring for all.
We bemoan that learners want bells and whistles, that they want to be entertained.
You know what I say to that?
Number one – who doesn’t want a lively learning experience?
And two – this doesn’t mean YOU must do all the entertaining. Refer to number 2 above.
Create a Caring Connection
Colleagues across campus told me that my students would tell them, “Dr. B. cares about us.” They felt it to the core.
At first, I was embarrassed about this. Yes. I cared about them as people and cared that they were learning. But I first took it as a dis about my teaching. Like “she’s not a good teacher but she cares about us.” Cue a sing-song voice and roll of eyes.
Yet, I learned that’s not at all what they were saying. It was the very act of caring that connected us and thus opened them up to learning.
Develop a caring connection with your students.
Learning their names will go a long way in demonstrating that you care. Get to know them.
Learn what motivates them (yes, it’s often grades) and what is most important to them. What is REALLY most important to them. The answer isn’t always what you think.
Role Model What You Don’t Know
Novice teachers and leaders often freeze when they are stymied by questions. Can you say deer in the headlights? Their thoughts run amok with what others will think of them if they don’t have all the answers.
This fear holds many teachers back from teaching in the moment – like offering up a case study on the fly. (By the way, this is the most fun activity EVER. You are missing out if you shy away from doing this.)
When students ask a question and you don’t know an answer – DO NOT fudge it. They will know and lose trust in your teaching going forward.
It’s better to say, “I don’t know” and then role model how you would find the answer or how you would think through the problem than blustering through.
Work through aloud how you would think through the problem as an expert. We teach best through example, through role modeling. Thus, rejoice in your learners asking questions for which you don’t readily know the answer.
Be your authentic self in the classroom.
Pretending to be someone you’re not, drains your MOJO and is off-putting to the learner.
You didn’t become an expert overnight. You weren’t birthed with the knowledge that you’re teaching.
Did you ever fall down when you were becoming the expert you are today? Yes? Great. Let your learners know that. In other words, be relatable.
Anyone learning from you wants to know you as the beautiful human that you are.
Be that person.
Let them know you care and have fun.
You’ll have an awesome time.
Looking for some free resources to help with inspiration, teaching, and testing?” Check these out.
Sending you lots of love this fall and beyond,