Succeeding in the classroom can be tricky. There is so much to learn, little time to learn it, and not much feedback when you try it out on your own. To make matters worse, everywhere you turn, there is advice for what the new best thing is to incorporate into your teaching methods. Where is one to start?
If you are an educator wanting to get better in the classroom, there are 5 simple strategies you can implement immediately to hone your craft (and these will never go out of style!).
5 Tips for Succeeding in the Classroom
- Build Relationships
- Provide Healthy Boundaries
- Put Structures in Place
- Follow Through on a Consistent Basis
- Celebrate Individual Milestones
Continue reading below for examples on how to implement these 5 tips into your own professional development practices.
The first tip to succeeding in the classroom is to build relationships with students. Teachers who know their kids and kids who know their teachers do big things. (Grab your “Relationships Matters tee here.) This can look like:
- Acknowledge every kid, everyday (ie. chant, handshake or make eye contact)
- Be firm, but human so students can relate to you (ie. smile, share appropriate details about yourself and your life, ask questions about your students as people, eat lunch with them etc.)
- Personalize the learning experience. When you know your kids, you can make your lessons apply specifically to where they are and who they are so that they get immersed in their learning.
Provide Healthy Boundaries
The second tip to succeeding in the classroom is to provide healthy boundaries to students. There is a way to maintain control without giving up your personality.
- Invite students into your space in a genuine, caring way but also show them the parameters of that relationship (ie. laugh together but not laugh at each other or read, research, work, collaborate anywhere in the classroom as long as you are on task and being responsible)
- Be fair and consistent in putting boundaries into place so that students’ trust builds
- Manage how students participate and engage in their learning experience
Put Structures in Place
The third tip to succeeding in the classroom is to put structures in place so that students feel safe while taking risks in their daily learning experiences.
- Design lessons so that the structures teach students how to behave within established boundaries (ie. how to move around the classroom, interact with each other and items in the classroom, learn in small group/whole group/peer teaching teams or access their accommodations)
- Structure your biggest lesson components first and roll out to students before structuring the rest of your day (ie. start with the portion of the day has the biggest impact on student learning)
Follow Through on a Consistent Basis
The fourth tip for succeeding in the classroom is to follow through on a consistent basis. Trust is built on consistency so when you demand something from students and then follow through to ensure they provide it to you every time, you showcase consistency. Consistency breeds safety and connection.
- Hold students accountable. Trust and relationship cannot grow if you do not water it with follow through. Students need to know you are watching and noticing everything. Nothing goes unnoticed, whether kids are doing well or struggling .You praise or redirect, but regardless, you are maintaining a certain standard of learning in your classroom.
- Follow through ensures long term success because you are reminding students of what they need to continue to do to build strong learning habits. It could look like:
- A sticky note on a math notebook: “I see you’re really getting the hang of this new strategy. Your work product is clear and correct. Nice job working through it.”
- An impromptu writing conference at the pencil sharpener: “Hey, I noticed you’re jumping right to action.. make sure you take the reader on a journey and establish the beginning so that the action has more impact. Go back and revise that beginning and drop it by my desk at the end of the day.”
Celebrate Individual Milestones
The fifth and final tip for succeeding in the classroom is to celebrate students’ individual milestones, personal or academic. We can’t just celebrate grades and test scores. We have to notice all the mini milestones that develop these little people. Our students struggle with so many things, but we are able to still celebrate because of our:
- Relationships- we know what the struggles are.
- Boundaries- we are able to help students stay in their lane to reach their goals
- Structures in Place- we are able to elevate students well beyond their potential
- Follow Through- we are able to ensure students are successful not just in our class but every class because helped build healthy habits
- Celebrate- students know we love and care for them on a level they’ve never experienced before, for example when a student:
- Remembers their lunch without reminders
- Fluently reads a sentence for the first time
- Solved a problem without needing previous supports
- Interacted in a new situation with grace and dignity
If an educator focuses their energy on these 5 tips to improve their instructional practice, they will undoubtably have no problem succeeding in the classroom.
Do you want more details on these 5 strategies? Click here to listen to the full podcast episode.
What is your best teaching tip for succeeding in the classroom?