General Question

Carly's avatar

If I became a teacher, what kind of teaching advice could you give me?

Asked by Carly (4555points) September 27th, 2010

I heard on many occasions that in several years the US will need millions of more teachers (I’m not sure about any exact number though). If this is even remotely true that there is such a need, I’ve been considering getting my single-subject teaching credential; I’m in the process of earning my BA in English, the subject I would teach.

I’m also interested in this career path because I personally had a bad experience in high school. Half of my teachers couldn’t teach well, but the one’s that could were people I truly connected with and really learned from. I’m aware that teaching could become a job which could wear me out, but in the past few years of college I’ve noticed that I really enjoy helping fellow students see the bigger picture of their studies, especially students that have a really hard time grasping new ideas.

What are your opinions of this need for new teacher/better teaching? Is there any teaching advice you would have to someone who was just about to enter this field?

Also, do you think it would be wise to teach at a public school – or are there better school systems out there?

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17 Answers

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

Be patient and don’t let them get to you

wundayatta's avatar

Love your subject(s) and love your children. Show enthusiasm for your work every day. If you put that kind of energy into the kids, you’ll get it quadrupled back. It doesn’t matter whether you have the most well-heeled kids or the most disadvantaged kids; enthusiasm makes a huge difference.

GeorgeGee's avatar

Don’t give up your day job.
Many teachers find it difficult to make ends meet on a teacher’s salary, and I’ve known many who were doing such things as waitressing or bartending evenings and weekends. Also there have been many layoffs in recent years, despite what you hear about more teachers being needed. Just don’t put all your eggs in one basket, and don’t set your expectations too high. If you have notions of being rich some day or traveling to exotic places in your retirement, make the decision now to either give up those dreams, or choose another career.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

And what wundayatta said. If you don’t love what you teach, you won’t teach it with enough enthusiasm to get it through to the kids. I had a science teacher that hated science, and even though she had good methods of teaching, nothing ever stuck with us because she hated what she taught.

tedibear's avatar

Make sure your organizational skills are top-notch. When I was teaching I really struggled with having my lesson plans ready. This left me frustrated and unprepared and when that happened, that particular lesson would suck.

Also, don’t give homework that you aren’t going to take the time to read and grade. I did that a few times and thought, “Why did I do that? What a waste of their time and paper.”

Along with what everyone else said…

ChocolateReigns's avatar

Make it fun! I know that when I have a class and the assignments are fun and I’m interested, it sticks with me better and I’m in a better mood. And if there are kids who are really interested in writing and might go far with it, be tough on them, and give them lots of constructive criticism.

Jude's avatar

The key to being a good teacher, as far as I’m concerned – is that you must have a passion for it. A passion for teaching leads to thorough preparation, you’re continuously working on honing your teaching skills, and are taking pleasure in watching children learn. Also, when I think back to my favorite teachers (elementary school) and what made them wonderful, what comes to mind, besides being passionate about teaching, are qualities such as patience, being creative, encouraging, enthusiactic, positive, can easily adapt to (unexpected) changes/situations, are caring and understanding.

Children are instinctively curious, wanting to know more about the world around them, eager to learn about new and interesting things. I remember 3rd grade, clearly. In fact, that was my favorite grade. I was curious about everything, found the sciences interesting, loved being creative through arts projects and rather enjoyed writing out my 3rd grade speech (which I one first prize for in Elementary school). I remember my 3rd teacher as having all of those qualities listed above; displaying great enthusiam when teaching, was creative (in teaching various lessons), she was extremely patient and had a wonderfully positive attitude, was caring and for me, the biggest thing was she was encouragment that I received from her – to push forward. When I struggled with a few projects or an assigment, it was her encouragement and belief in me that pushed me forward, when I, at the time, doubted my abilities. I gained a great deal of confidence.

Teachers are there to be guides, role models and mentors to their students. An important thing that we have to remember is that they are in a position to help shape individual students’ sense of self and their conception of the world around them.

Personally, the toughest thing for me, at first, was being able to plan a suitable lesson. A lot of work goes into planning a lesson. You have to make it interesting, you need a “hook” (to get the students interested); you also have to think of curriculum (are you getting it all in there), you have to consider that fact that you only have a certain amount of time for that lesson, and you have to do a lot of work on your own (gathering information via the web and other resources).

Challenging, but, rewarding. Good luck!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It is obvious that you have found a subject that you love. In looking at your profile, it states, “I’m really interested in working as either a librarian or an archivist, but if I ever get published as a writer, then I’d gladly take up that profession.”

It sounds like the first step is to find out what the reality of teaching in a middle- or high school is like. I would recommend setting up some interviews with local English teachers in your area. Make sure that they are ones that are passionate and enjoy what they are doing. They can share the reality of the job, both pros and cons.

My sister taught grade 9 – 12 for almost 30 years and often was assigned to the AP (advanced placement) classes. She constantly had a stack of papers to grade that she did at home while still running a household. My English teacher was good, and he was passionate about the topic. Unfortunately, he was often disheartened by having to teach so many students who were there because they had to be. He once confided that he would have been much happier at a college level where students chose to be studying that field.

The fields that you have been considering are all very different, with a few common threads. I suggest talking to your college counselor, talk to some of your professors, and English teachers in the local schools. They can probably also provide you with information on salaries and job availability trends, or at least point you to some helpful resources.

thekoukoureport's avatar

Have confidence in what you say and what you want them to do. Or you will be eaten alive.

Show you care, work hard with those who need it and show them that you want them to succeed.

Give them reason for your lesson or lessons. If you can give someone a practicle application for the knowledge that you want to impart the lesson becomes more receptive.

Let the student take part in the teaching. Get them teaching each other.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I taught English as a second language for a number of years and really enjoyed it. The #1 point I’d like to pass along to any teacher is to let the students be the center of the learning experience as opposed to the curriculum or the teacher.

Carly's avatar

@Hawaii jake, could you give me an example?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Carly : In designing lesson plans for ESL students, I would make sure that the activities required them to be active for at least 75% of the class time. In other words, I would have projects for them to accomplish by speaking or reading English for 75% of the time while I only took 25% of the time to explain things. It’s my understanding that students learn by doing and not by listening.

I may be wrong, but I believe that this concept can be used in other subjects as well. Not just ESL.

zen_'s avatar

Some quotes I like – and why I like them.

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. William Arthur Ward

If you can get the student interested, you have inspired them. It isn’t always easy.

What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches. Karl Menninger

Try to set an example for the student. I, for one, have no problem admitting that I don’t know something. I can’t know everything, and I simply tell them they can help me look it up – or look for the answer. I may not know it now – but I know where to find it. Samuel Johnson once said that the next best thing to knowing something, is knowing where to find it.

To teach is to learn twice. Joseph Joubert

Everyone learns differently, and some learn best by teaching. I do, and I love teaching if for nothing else then to simply learn.

skfinkel's avatar

Ask lots of questions and rely on the children for answers. Realize right from the start that they can’t learn everything, so you can give up teaching them everything, and really teach them how to learn for themselves. Let them become the teachers, prepare the reports in creative ways. Let them work in groups. Allow learning to be the fun that it really is.

Kardamom's avatar

Don’t ever single out a kid in front of the class if the child says he doesn’t know the answer. Don’t make that child get up in front of the class and “figure it out” in front of everyone. I was a very shy child and terrible in math. I had a 7th grade teacher who humiliated me after I tearfully told her that I didn’t know the answer. She made me get up in front of the whole class to prove that I didn’t know how to do the problem. I had to fight back the tears. It was one of the most humiliating moments of my life. I probably needed a tutor, but that wasn’t something that was offered to me, only the degrading moment in the spotlight. Up to that point, I was just crappy in math, but after that moment my grades (in math only) went down and I started having panic attacks about it. I’m still terrible in math, even after having the benefit of some pretty good math teachers after that experience. My brain is just not wired for it, no matter how hard I try. I see my problem as being akin to having dyslexia, only with math instead of words. But the bottom line is, be very kind and nurturing to the shy kids and kids who show signs of having trouble with the work. Do not humiliate them, because they will carry that humiliation with them for a lifetime. And understand that what works for the majority of kids, may not work for all of the kids. Children have different abilities and weaknesses and some kids may learn in a different way than the majority.

mattbrowne's avatar

Students need to know why they learn, especially for science. Introducing formulas first for example is the wrong approach. First talk about a real life problem. Like what are the chances of winning the lottery. Or how to divide an octave into 12 well-tempered semitones. Or how many base pairs in DNA can encode one amino acid.

kritiper's avatar

Forget teaching. You’d do better in life to apply that education to some field where you could make more money.

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