5 Practices Teachers must avoid
5 Practices Teachers must avoid
01 December 2018/ By Zineb DJOUB
Teaching is a hard job. Yet, it remains the most important and rewarding one. Teachers have to thrive and not just survive to enjoy the profession and raise the bar further.
Still, there are certain teachers’ practices which can inhibit them from achieving this goal. These may be due to their false assumptions, lack of awareness, training, support, etc.
In this post, I am focusing on 5 practices that are detrimental to teachers’ well-being and career and I am suggesting ways to avoid them.
So, let’s go!
1. Seeking Perfection
As teachers, we have a lot on our plates. We provide instructions, select resources to meet students’ needs, monitor, and track their progress and evaluate our practices to enhance them.
We work hard to support our students learn. But, if we seek perfection we will end up draining our energy and ruining our health.
Not all our students are expected to understand our instructions and react positively in the classroom. Even if you explain well, you will have some students who still struggle with your lesson’s content.
So, instead of expending your effort on explaining several times give them opportunities to work with their peers and explain to each other, provide practice and monitor their learning.
We cannot make all students speak in class, and do tasks. If you can, that’s WONDERFUL! But, do not blame yourself in case some students refuse to work or are disengaged.
You’ve tried to make personal connections with them. You’ve provided choices and used interesting resources. So, you’ve done all what you can to make them engaged. Do not focus on that. Leave your energy for the rest who are engaged.
Another way to seek perfection is overplanning. There are teachers who try to get many resources for their lessons in addition to those already provided. So, they spend most of their time looking for more activities and materials that are of interest to their students and they end up with a lot of work to do in class.
So, they get saddled with a heavy workload that wears them out.
Avoid this. Focus on your students’ needs and interests and think always about your time and how you need to support your students to learn on their own.
Do not pack so much. You are not supposed to do all what you’ve planned for. Eliminate things that are not that relevant and reflect on how to use your time for the best. Remember to create certain margin for students to breathe and deconcentrate.And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good. ” John Steinbeck Click To Tweet
2. Second-Guessing Themselves
We need to set and maintain meaningful relationships with our students. Because this is the bedrock of more effective and efficient instructions.
It is more than this! The kind of relationship we have with our students determines our well-being as teachers.
We feel more likely to give more, innovate and help students from the heart when good relationships connect us. In those classes, we get more enthusiastic and passionate about our teaching and feel more committed to the kind of relationship that holds us. We enjoy those moments of serenity and forget about our stress, workload and get more energized.
Students’ respect is the main ingredient for any effective teacher-student relationship. We have to respect and value them to earn their respect.
But, students’ respect is also based on how trustworthy we are.
If students question their teacher’s credibility,i.e., they doubt his knowledge and skills they will no longer consider him the person who is worth learning from. In such cases, their respect and attention in learning would seem unnecessary.
So, you need to gain students’ trust because this is what makes your relationship more meaningful. To do so, NEVER second-guess yourself even if you are new to teaching or not professional enough.
Do not let any student’s question, remark or comment panic you, making you embarrassed and insecure.
Be confident. Believe in yourself, and in your ability to meet the challenge. Make this confidence more visible to your students through your attitudes to empower them to learn and progress over time, and your passion and determination to learn more.
Get well-prepared, and be sure of the information you provide. You are not supposed to have all the answers, but you still have room to grow.
We all have weaknesses and strengths. We are learning on the go to streamline and get more respected, valued and trusted among our students.
So, reflect on your teaching, collaborate with others to learn more and never underestimate your potential. You can make your career more successful.
3. Sticking to the same Routine
Because we tend to do the same tasks over the weeks we may get trapped by work-routine. Work-routine kills our motivation and depletes our energy to learn, get more creative and innovative in teaching.
Since it leads to monotony, it can even make us disengaged and careless teachers who can barely teach for exams.
Doing the same thing in the same way year after year may ease our planning off and make us feel less stress out. But, we will get bored and lazy teachers who cannot meet the diverse needs of students.
When we stick to a given routine we deprive our students of ‘the light bulb moment’ they can get when they experience new things and feel the joy of their creativity and learning.
Work-routine does threaten our well-being as it can result in burnout. Our enthusiasm in explaining and interacting with students is likely to wear out because all these practices have become ordinary for us.
Because it is the same every day, our thinking is likely to get paralyzed and we can easily get stuck and burn out when the unexpected turns out.
But, when we create and innovate we become more enthusiastic, excited and we look forward to experiencing the NEW as we get curious about its impact on students’ learning. We reflect constantly on our practices and find solutions to the unexpected.
So, if you want to lift up your energy, and add ongoing fuel to your passion and enthusiasm get more flexible. Think always about the students you have and the kind of change you need to bring out to make your teaching more relevant and interesting for them. Keep on reflecting on how they get on to improve.
Target your professional development. Attend conferences, take PD courses, read, connect with teachers…..LEARN ON THE GO, you will enjoy your self-achievement.
In your personal life, avoid sticking to a particular routine over a period of time. Change your schedule from time to time. Add new activities, reflect on what worked and did not, learn about more productive habits and set new goals for yourself.
Remember: if taking your life to the next level is your objective you will get more excited and energized.
4. Acting Superior to Others
There is nothing more precious than the kind of relationship we have with people surrounding us. In our professional lives, our relationships with students, colleagues, principles, administrators do really matter because they not only affect our perceptions, attitudes and performance as teachers but also our self-esteem.
Because we have control over our behaviours we can determine the nature of relationships to set with others according to the context, our objectives of connecting with them and their personality.
At work, we are not supposed to develop intimate relationships either with students, colleagues or other staff members. Still, what ties us is one process called « LEARNING ».
In spite of the different roles attributed to us, we are all aiming to achieve one goal which is supporting students learn and progress.
Even students have a significant role to contribute to their own learning. Their support is reflected through their interest in learning, discipline, collaboration and persistence to further their learning.
To create that learning environment where collaboration is fostered and learning is targeted by all people engaged in the educational process, we must be HUMBLE and genuinely KIND to everyone.
We cannot share common goals and work together towards achieving them if we are arrogant or act SUPERIOR to others.
A teacher who looks down on others, he is likely to refuse to listen to his colleagues, to collaborate with them, to care about their interests and concerns because he believes that only his views and ideas are valid.
He will underestimate students’ learning and progress, show no appreciation for their effort and ignore their choices and voices in learning.
So, fight against that feeling of superiority which can make you drown in that illusion of knowing everything and so pretending to know things when you don’t. This can make an end to your learning and development as teachers.
Whatever qualifications, experience or qualities you have, don’t let that feeling take over you. Be proud of yourself, praise your success and keep going your progress.
5. Not Drawing Proper Boundaries
We, teachers, are in position of power. We spend a lot of time with our students in the classroom. They need our help and we are supposed to lend our ears and helping hands.
But, we must also behave professionally and maintain a professional distance from our students. I know you want to be kind and light-hearted with them. Yet, this does not mean crossing the line with them.
If we friend students on Facebook, meet them outside the school, talk to them about our private lives, listen to their personal problems and get them ‘emotionally invested in us’, we will contribute to destroying our reputation and career.
Do not try to be liked and so you interact beyond your teacher’s zone. Your professionalism is what makes you admired and valued among them (even colleagues and other staff members).
Professional boundaries clarify to us what caring about students means including the appropriate levels of contact. They protect us as they make students respect and trust us.
So, set appropriate boundaries from the get-go and maintain them with rigour.
We have to be mindful of our practices to provide quality education, learn and flourish in more challenging conditions. Because our well-being does really matter, we needn’t just survive but thrive.
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