5 Tips To Improve Your Teaching And Boost Your Career
Whether you’re a new teacher or have years of classroom experience, there’s always more to learn. Read on for five practical tips to help you teach more effectively and enjoy a fulfilling teaching career.
Communicate with colleagues and mentors
Your colleagues provide a wealth of information, especially if you’re a new teacher or have recently moved to a new school. You can swap ideas, exchange lesson plans, and discuss strategies for resolving the inevitable challenges that arise in the classroom. Socializing with colleagues helps keep teaching fun and refreshing. You can also ask the school administration about the possibility of sitting in on a respected colleague’s classroom and observing a lesson or two. Alternatively, you might invite another teacher to observe your class.
By entering your colleagues’ classrooms and inviting them into your own, you gain new insight and open up lines of communication.
Keep a teaching log
Using whichever format you prefer (paper notebook, Word document, Evernote), keep track of the lesson plans you teach and how they go. Record notes at the end of each day, reflecting on what worked and what needs improvement. Which activities sparked student engagement, and which proved more of a struggle? What questions did students have? Was anything unclear or overly time-consuming? Did students have unexpected gaps in their knowledge that precluded you from teaching the most advanced parts of the lesson?
Keeping this kind of record will make it easier to compile a teaching portfolio or write a teaching statement further down the road. It will also help you update and tweak lessons as needed over the course of your teaching career.
Take advantage of technological and online resources
There are countless teaching resources out there, and they’re more available than ever thanks to the internet—so take advantage! Are you still in the early stages of determining your career path and where your teaching will take you? There are tons of resources and blog posts to help you out. Are you looking for ideas on incorporating technology into your classroom? There’s a hefty tutorial for that. Whether you want ideas on teaching strategies, classroom management, subject material, or more, someone else has likely had similar questions. Some teachers even post syllabi or entire lesson plans online, which can give you inspiration for activities to try in your own classroom.
Update or expand your certifications
If you’re a prospective teacher, you’ll likely have to prove your expertise by passing a Praxis test or similar state exam. Similarly, many experienced teachers find that gaining additional certifications is a valuable career boost and an excellent way to continue learning and challenging themselves. What are your ultimate career goals? You may be interested in branching out to teach new grade levels or subject areas, or in acquiring administrative credentials.
It’s often possible to further your training while continuing to teach thanks to self-paced online courses: for example, this comprehensive prep course for Praxis Core exams and Subject Assessments.
Stay current in your field
Let’s say you teach high school biology. Sure, you know the fundamentals backward and forwards and can probably teach similar lessons to each new group of students that enters the classroom. But cutting-edge research in biology (and pretty much any other field) is always growing and changing.
Our world is constantly publishing new studies and making discoveries.
Throughout your teaching career, it’s essential to keep up with new research in your field. You might keep an eye out for biology in the news, for example, read a few academic journals, or join a group like the National Science Teachers Association or the National Council of Teachers of English. Organizations such as these typically produce ample resources and hold networking events, which can be beneficial in advancing your career.
References and Further Reading
Brookfield, Stephen. Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995.
Kriegel, Otis. Everything a New Elementary Teacher REALLY Needs to Know (But Didn’t Learn in College). Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing, 2013.
Perott, Elizabeth. Effective Teaching: A Practical Guide to Improving Your Teaching. London: Routledge, 1982, 2014.
Seldin, Peter. The Teaching Portfolio, 3rd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003.
Thompson, Julia. The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide, 3rd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2013.