There are approximately 3.5 million teachers currently employed in the U.S., and many of them deal with daily challenges such as overcrowded classrooms and minuscule budgets. Despite these obstacles, there are numerous teachers who have found inspiring ways to improve the lives of their students. In fact, if you put even one of the following tips into action, it will have the potential to bring about life-altering results for each student.
1. Boost Their Self-Esteem With Wide-Reaching Class Projects
Many students struggle with the concept of finding worth in doing repetitious tasks that will never been seen by anyone but themselves and their teachers. Although some of this is unavoidable, there are many ways to develop class projects that have a much wider scope and reach.
A prime example is the book publication project developed by Detroit teacher Shannon Waite. Her English students were given the opportunity to write an essay, poem, and short story based on a central theme, and the best selections will be published and sold in a local bookstore. This type of experience is sure to boost each participating student’s self-esteem, which is especially critical in a disadvantaged urban environment.
2. Take Advantage Of Free Offers For Supplies, Books, And More
Studies have found that teachers spend at least $500 annually on school supplies, so it is important for them to take advantage of any freebies that will help their students learn. This not only enables teachers to offer new learning tools, but it also prevents them from further stretching their personal budget. There are many online resources that can connect you with free educational supplies, including this USATestprep compilation of 55 Free Goods for Your School.
3. Incorporate Popular Modern Themes To Help Students Understand And Appreciate Difficult Subjects
Today’s students are very enamored with technology and other aspects of the modern world that didn’t even exist a few years ago. This can make it especially difficult to get them interested in classic literature that is 400 years old or historical information that seems completely irrelevant to them.
Fortunately, teachers have the ability to use modern themes in order to bring old concepts to life. It can be very powerful to meet them on their social and technological level, whether this means showing them a modern re-imagining of a Shakespeare story to get them interested in the original piece or using iPads to let them learn through technology they are comfortable with.
4. Provide Honest Assessments An A Kind And Constructive Manner
It is necessary to offer honest assessments in order for students to truly learn and grow, but this can become negative if the proper approach is not used. A review of the link between teacher interaction and positive or negative student behavior has made it clear that kindness and constructive comments will go much further than simply pulling out the red pen.
In fact, a teacher’s level of friendliness and respect toward their students, along with self-regulation and the ability to fully explain the material, can have a huge impact on each student’s eagerness and acceptance of discipline, organization skills, and self-regulation. Overall, the more positive the teacher-student rapport is, the more accepting students are of constructive criticism, which in turn helps them improve.
5. Enable Students On The Spectrum To Utilize Their Unique Strengths
Children with autism typically have many challenges, but they also have unique strengths, including a thinking style that tends to be very outside-the-box. These students may require a specific type of instruction that is different from the norm. However, if you meet them halfway, it is very likely that they will excel in many subjects.
For example, if a child with Asperger’s currently has baseball as their special interest, you can engage them in classroom assignments by letting them relate their work to the sport in some way. Other students will also benefit from seeing a different point of view. Providing these accommodations will increase the student’s self-esteem and may reduce bullying.
6. Lead By Example
Another way to diminish bullying in and outside the classroom is by setting a good example. It would be easy to give into frustration and say something to a student that is not positive, but doing this will capture the attention of their peers. If you must say something negative, it is best to speak to the student privately. By showing respect to your students, you will create a classroom culture that empowers them to learn and to treat others around them with respect as well.
7. Allow Your Students To Be Involved In Selecting Some Of The Classwork
There are certain parts of the curriculum that cannot, and should not, be changed. However, most teachers have at least some wiggle room with the daily classwork that they assign. Allowing your students to have some say in these assignments can make a big difference in how well they relate to and learn from them. If you have a less structured day on Fridays or before a holiday, get your students’ input on what they would like to work on. You should probably ask them to select between two or three options so that you get a clear answer, but making the process feel more democratic is still likely to capture their attention.
8. Use Achievable, Short-Term Goal Setting To Encourage Their Educational Growth
Goal setting needs to be actionable, measurable, and achievable. It is also best to use positive language, even if you are correcting negative behavior or a knowledge deficit. Breaking larger goals into small, short-term chunks is one of the most effective ways to get students interested in achieving new accomplishments. Therefore, even if you need them to ultimately produce four separate works for one large project, it is better to focus on one piece of the puzzle at a time. This will make students feel more encouraged, and it will also give you a better opportunity to intervene quickly if someone is not following instructions or learning the material.
9. Provide Rewards For Extracurricular Volunteer Work
Studies have proven that volunteering is good for way to boost self-esteem and network with others. Additionally, learning early on about the value of volunteering can put someone on the path to being kinder to their peers. Some schools link volunteering to educational credits, and it is sometimes possible to get scholarships for giving back to the local community. You could also offer tangible rewards such as erasing one tardy for every hour of volunteering or allowing students to drop their lowest test score if they volunteered somewhere that semester.
10. Consider Teaming Up With A Local Bakery To Offer Classroom Snacks
An astounding 15.3 million children do not have steady access to food, and many of them may come to school without having eaten breakfast. This will make it much harder for them to learn, and they may also be more disruptive during class. To minimize this problem, consider asking a local bakery or grocery store to donate day-old items to your class. Do not list these items in this way, though. Instead, let every student know that the snacks are available and they are free to take one. This will relieve some of the burden of being in a household that experiences regular food insecurity, and it will help your students learn.
To get the most out of each day, teachers can also take advantage of tools that have been specifically designed to help them save time. Additionally, it is wise to slowly introduce new methods that can make the classroom more student-friendly so that you do not take on too much at once.
Featured photo credit: Lucélia Ribeiro via flic.kr