Teaching is one of the most challenging jobs in the world, but may also be the single most rewarding career one can pursue. How can a job be insanely difficult – yet amazingly rewarding at the same time? The answer is not quite so straight forward…let’s explore it below.
The deciding factor in how hard it is to teach something comes down to four main factors:
First is the ability of the teacher to create interactive, interesting lessons that engage their students. This is a skill that can be learned. One of the best books on this topic is Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess.
Second is the teacher’s mastery of the subject. If a teacher does not know the topic inside-out, you can rest assured at one point (and possibly many more) students will ask a question that the teacher does not know the answer to.
If teaching beginners, approach your topic from a hypothetical point zero – assume you know absolutely nothing about it – consider what questions you’d have – and how to answer them. If a student asks a question you do not know the answer to, admit that you are unsure, but will find the answer and report back.
Third is the teacher’s understanding of their students. Good teachers have a detailed understanding of their students’ background knowledge, interests, strengths, and weaknesses. When starting a new class, make a concerted effort to learn about your students.
A great opportunity for this is during the orientation period – if possible get to know your students personally. You don’t have to be their best friend, but you should seek to be their mentor. Should you find yourself teaching a large group of students, consider their likely life-experience, age group, gender and cultural background.
Fourth is the teacher’s level of skill at classroom management. Managing a classroom of 20-60 kids is extremely challenging. It can range from stressful and frustrating to chaotic and dangerous. Weak classroom management skills are the biggest reason that teachers leave the profession. One of the best books on classroom management is Teaching with Love and Logic by Jim Fay and David Funk.
By investing time and effort into the areas above you can not only make a positive difference to your own experience teaching, but also make a life-changing impact on the students you teach.