Lessons after a year Teaching

I’m now in my second year teaching, and while I’ve learned quite a bit, I’ve still got a ways to go.  Here are a few things I’ve learned so far though.

  1. Students won’t do their readings if they’re not going to tested on it immediately.  Solution: require them to fill out worksheets concerning the readings as they do them.
  2. Test questions need to explicitly ask for details, otherwise students will not provide them.
  3. Nuances should sometimes be left unsaid, as they can confuse students.  There needs to be a balance between the basic required information, and the exceptions to the rule.
  4. As a general rule, accepting late work is a bad idea.  Students will abuse it.
  5. Bad class performance is most likely due to laziness and not inability to do the work.
  6. Sometimes you do have students that really can’t cut it.  I have yet to learn of a good way to deal with that.
  7. If you allow your students to be creative, they will blow your mind with their creations.
  8. Your actions have the biggest effect on morale.  You need to be able to make jokes and get them to laugh.
  9. You cannot be afraid to be wrong.
  10. Have discussion questions prepared ahead of time.  These need to be open ended, and force them to bring many different things together.

Lessons I’ve learned from observing other classes.

  1. Don’t treat your students as though they are lazy or stupid.
  2. A harsh word can completely ruin a semester, and force you to lose all credibility.
  3. If morale gets low, you better get creative, because low morale means low learning.
  4. If you find yourself ranting about your students more often that praising them, you probably need to reconsider your teaching strategies. And take a break.  Students aren’t actually that bad.
  5. Don’t treat your students as though they are lazy or stupid.

It’s an ongoing process, but I think things are progressing pretty well.  I hope to keeping experimenting to see what works best.