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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

11 Habits of an Effective Teacher

11 Habits of an Effective Teacher

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I really appreciate teachers who are truly passionate about teaching. The teacher who wants to be an inspiration to others. The teacher who is happy with his/her job at all times. The teacher that every other child in the school would love to have. The teacher that kids remember for the rest of their lives. Are you that teacher? Read on and learn 11 effective habits of an effective teacher.

1. ENJOYS TEACHING.

Teaching is meant to be a very enjoyable and rewarding career field (although demanding and exhausting at times!). You should only become a teacher if you love children and intend on caring for them with your heart. You cannot expect the kids to have fun if you are not having fun with them! If you only read the instructions out of a textbook, it's ineffective. Instead, make your lessons come alive by making it as interactive and engaging as possible. Let your passion for teaching shine through each and everyday. Enjoy every teaching moment to the fullest.

2. MAKES A DIFFERENCE.

There is a saying, "With great power, comes great responsibility". As a teacher, you need to be aware and remember the great responsibility that comes with your profession. One of your goals ought to be: Make a difference in their lives. How? Make them feel special, safe and secure when they are in your classroom. Be the positive influence in their lives. Why? You never know what your students went through before entering your classroom on a particular day or what conditions they are going home to after your class. So, just in case they are not getting enough support from home, at least you will make a difference and provide that to them.

3. SPREADS POSITIVITY.

Bring positive energy into the classroom every single day. You have a beautiful smile so don't forget to flash it as much as possible throughout the day. I know that you face battles of your own in your personal life but once you enter that classroom, you should leave all of it behind before you step foot in the door. Your students deserve more than for you to take your frustration out on them. No matter how you are feeling, how much sleep you've gotten or how frustrated you are, never let that show. Even if you are having a bad day, learn to put on a mask in front of the students and let them think of you as a superhero (it will make your day too)! Be someone who is always positive, happy and smiling. Always remember that positive energy is contagious and it is up to you to spread it. Don't let other people's negativity bring you down with them.

4. GETS PERSONAL.

This is the fun part and absolutely important for being an effective teacher! Get to know your students and their interests so that you can find ways to connect with them. Don't forget to also tell them about yours! Also, it is important to get to know their learning styles so that you can cater to each of them as an individual. In addition, make an effort to get to know their parents as well. Speaking to the parents should not be looked at as an obligation but rather, an honour. In the beginning of the school year, make it known that they can come to you about anything at anytime of the year. In addition, try to get to know your colleagues on a personal level as well. You will be much happier if you can find a strong support network in and outside of school.

5. GIVES 100%.

Whether you are delivering a lesson, writing report cards or offering support to a colleague - give 100%. Do your job for the love of teaching and not because you feel obligated to do it. Do it for self-growth. Do it to inspire others. Do it so that your students will get the most out of what you are teaching them. Give 100% for yourself, students, parents, school and everyone who believes in you. Never give up and try your best - that's all that you can do. (That's what I tell the kids anyway!)

6. STAYS ORGANIZED.

Never fall behind on the marking or filing of students' work. Try your best to be on top of it and not let the pile grow past your head! It will save you a lot of time in the long run. It is also important to keep an organized planner and plan ahead! The likelihood of last minute lesson plans being effective are slim. Lastly, keep a journal handy and jot down your ideas as soon as an inspired idea forms in your mind. Then, make a plan to put those ideas in action.

7. IS OPEN-MINDED.

As a teacher, there are going to be times where you will be observed formally or informally (that's also why you should give 100% at all times). You are constantly being evaluated and criticized by your boss, teachers, parents and even children. Instead of feeling bitter when somebody has something to say about your teaching, be open-minded when receiving constructive criticism and form a plan of action. Prove that you are the effective teacher that you want to be. Nobody is perfect and there is always room for improvement. Sometimes, others see what you fail to see.

8. HAS STANDARDS.

Create standards for your students and for yourself. From the beginning, make sure that they know what is acceptable versus what isn't. For example, remind the students how you would like work to be completed. Are you the teacher who wants your students to try their best and hand in their best and neatest work? Or are you the teacher who couldn't care less? Now remember, you can only expect a lot if you give a lot. As the saying goes, "Practice what you preach".

9. FINDS INSPIRATION.

An effective teacher is one who is creative but that doesn't mean that you have to create everything from scratch! Find inspiration from as many sources as you can. Whether it comes from books, education, Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, blogs, TpT or what have you, keep finding it!

10. EMBRACES CHANGE.

In life, things don't always go according to plan. This is particularly true when it comes to teaching. Be flexible and go with the flow when change occurs. An effective teacher does not complain about changes when a new principal arrives. They do not feel the need to mention how good they had it at their last school or with their last group of students compared to their current circumstances. Instead of stressing about change, embrace it with both hands and show that you are capable of hitting every curve ball that comes your way!

11. CREATES REFLECTIONS.

An effective teacher reflects on their teaching to evolve as a teacher. Think about what went well and what you would do differently next time. You need to remember that we all have "failed" lessons from time to time. Instead of looking at it as a failure, think about it as a lesson and learn from it. As teachers, your education and learning is ongoing. There is always more to learn and know about in order to strengthen your teaching skills. Keep reflecting on your work and educating yourself on what you find are your "weaknesses" as we all have them! The most important part is recognizing them and being able to work on them to improve your teaching skills.

There are, indeed, several other habits that make an effective teacher but these are the ones that I find most important. Many other character traits can be tied into these ones as well.

LAST WORD: There is always something positive to be found in every situation but it is up to you to find it. Keep your head up and teach happily for the love of education!


This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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John Bennett's picture
John Bennett
Emeritus Faculty in the School of Engineering / University of Connecticut

Great list to compare against for those teachers seeking to always improve. I'd add one more:

12. FACILITATES DEVELOPMENT OF IMPORTANT SKILLS. Those skills, so important for the lifelong learning critical to successful personal lives and careers, include effective learning, effective problem solving, communicating, and working collaboratively.

(1)
jojo nepomuceno's picture

I agree with what you points Carrie and enjoyed reading your article. I have been teaching for more than 20 years and love what I do. I too always try to smile even when things are not going as i planned but usually it brings me so much joy to work with my students who have special needs and my day is made when i see the big or small changes and accomplishments working with my students. I really wouldn't exchange teaching for any other profession.

(1)
Jane Connor's picture

Something I have learned over the years is that fairness means to give each child what he or she needs, NOT treating everyone the same!!

pranaam's picture

I know, Jane. The only people who think differently are either liars or way too far removed from the reality of the classroom.

Michelle Gallego Ordovez's picture

Effective teaching will be acquired of course if you love what your doing. I read a quote saying that "The only way to do great work is to love what you do." So if your passion is to teach then you will be a great teacher and an inspiration to those students. Also if you meet variety of struggles in life then you overcome it and solved it then it will help you to do more great things and surely your students would loved you.

Zaileen Cipriano's picture

Such a nice article, I find it really helpful. I agree with all the things that Ms. Lam pointed out. To become an effective teacher one must enjoy teaching, and not only treat it as an obligation. A teacher must have a positive outlook in life, he/she must always be happy and smiling for her students to be encourage too. And of course, a teacher must have a standard because having such, will bring out the best in the learners. And in order to be an effective teacher one must be open -minded and always be ready for change, he/she must accept constructive criticisms to improve her teaching.And what I love most is to make some reflections, by doing so, a teacher will be able evaluate herself on what are his or her weaknesses and thinking some ways on how to improve them.

RenJo Oncog's picture

What a fantastic article! As an aspiring teacher, this article helped me to not just remember my purpose, but take actions with them as well. The things pointed out are very helpful in all ways. Teaching is not just a job description; it should be the heart of a teacher--his/her will and passion to impart lessons with their pupils. I cannot wait for the day when I get to make a difference in my students' lives with this helpful article.

Fahimah Ali Hassan's picture

Hello Carmen,
I agreed you with 100% . But as a teacher we will having many of challenges. Sometimes we feel down and sometime very inspires. But we try our best to be a good teacher.

Brian Sztabnik's picture
Brian Sztabnik
AP Literature teacher from Miller Place, NY

What a great list Carrie.

The connections that exist in teaching are at the heart of everything that you wrote-- connections with students, connections with content, connections with colleagues, and connections with inspiring educators on social media like Twitter and Facebook.

This is why social media and tech tools like blogging have enhanced the educational experience for teachers, parents and students. They allow us and our students to form deeper and more insightful connections with others.

(3)
Gaetan Pappalardo's picture
Gaetan Pappalardo
Teacher, Author, Guitar––Word.

This list paints the perfect teacher. We all want to be this teacher, but, of course, we are all human. And I think kids need to know that "we" are all human because that's reality. We have bad days and good days. We fall behind and it's ok. We are not perfect. But, in the end we all make it through.

I also think that in order to do our best and have time to do what really matters, which is to teach and make connections with our students and parents, is to work smarter, not harder. I see too many teachers hung up on the minor details of teaching that it hinders their student/teacher time during the day.

Thank you for compiling such a detailed list.

Gaetan

(2)
Melanie Eisen's picture
Melanie Eisen
Assistant director of professional development, YUSP

I like the list, but I also think that sometimes we have bad days, and that's part of being a person- how we deal with bad days becomes a lesson we can share with our students. I also would add to the list the idea that our learning, like our students is ongoing- you listed "inspiration"- but I think it's more than that- it's the understanding that we are professionals, and as such we need to always be looking for pathways of professional growth. It is just as important to never afraid to ask for help- Teaching can be a very lonely profession with a lot of closed doors- look to others whether in your building or PLN to support your work-

(3)
Mary Jones's picture
Mary Jones
second grade teacher from michigan

Interesting. It sounds like teachers need to be perfect. Always be positive. Never fall behind. To me that's a recipe for burn-out. No one achieves 'always' or 'never'.

(2)
Tom_IHBCN's picture

Yes, as well as #1, "Enjoys teaching" (which is obviously vital!), missing is perhaps "Enjoys learning".

You can't really be/continue to be an "effective" teacher if you think you've already learned all there is to know about your profession -- especially when, nowadays, the world, society and education itself are evolving so fast.

You got to actually LIKE learning that things you thought were right -- and were the "right" way to do things, and teach them -- maybe no longer are...

(2)
Andrew Vivian's picture
Andrew Vivian
Consultant

Great list. Might I suggest, somewhere near the top, " focuses on learning, not teaching"? I know this might be implied in the list, but a teacher could still do almost everything on the list as the "sage on the stage" rather than the "guide on the side", which is more appropriate in this century.

(2)
Martin Richards's picture
Martin Richards
I train educators to use a coaching approach in their teaching practice

Everything on this list is on a professional coach's too.

This is a very useful list to share with teachers who say they don't have to be coaches "too". Copied!

(2)
Mr. Davis's picture

I love this. Especially the positivity piece and the personal touch. Too often teachers aren't themselves and that comes across to the students as less than authentic. Today's student is sophisticated. I talk about some of these same things on my new blog at Classficient.com which aims to help teachers become more efficient in order to create well-managed classrooms.

(2)
Gaetan Pappalardo's picture
Gaetan Pappalardo
Teacher, Author, Guitar––Word.

This list paints the perfect teacher. We all want to be this teacher, but, of course, we are all human. And I think kids need to know that "we" are all human because that's reality. We have bad days and good days. We fall behind and it's ok. We are not perfect. But, in the end we all make it through.

I also think that in order to do our best and have time to do what really matters, which is to teach and make connections with our students and parents, is to work smarter, not harder. I see too many teachers hung up on the minor details of teaching that it hinders their student/teacher time during the day.

Thank you for compiling such a detailed list.

Gaetan

(2)
Tanya Penner's picture

One thing I would add is an effective teacher continuously learns and evolves. I have known many teachers who became stagnant and ineffective because they believed there was no need for professional development, collaboration, etc.

We must be willing to step outside our comfort zone at times in order to progress.

(3)
James's picture
James
US & Qatari Intercultural International Liaison

Miss Lam, the response from Jocelyn was absolutely contradicting of her own argument. The comment about "what profession wouldn't give 100%, which is then countered with the defense that a teacher can burn out quickly, and that the student should show the energy doesn't make any sense. I don't think any parent would want to hear that response from a teacher instructing their kids. Both parties (teacher & kids) should exert 100% in teaching and learning. As a professional 100% should be embedded in your job 24/7, all negative/derogatory personal issues should be left at home or maybe another job should be chosen. Clearly it's a testament to the positive responses posted prior that "everyone" else clearly understood what you meant, and we all appreciate your efforts..not to mention completely agreeing. GREAT BLOG ma'am, keep up the Good work --looking forward to more.

(3)
Melanie Eisen's picture
Melanie Eisen
Assistant director of professional development, YUSP

I like the list, but I also think that sometimes we have bad days, and that's part of being a person- how we deal with bad days becomes a lesson we can share with our students. I also would add to the list the idea that our learning, like our students is ongoing- you listed "inspiration"- but I think it's more than that- it's the understanding that we are professionals, and as such we need to always be looking for pathways of professional growth. It is just as important to never afraid to ask for help- Teaching can be a very lonely profession with a lot of closed doors- look to others whether in your building or PLN to support your work-

(3)
Brian Sztabnik's picture
Brian Sztabnik
AP Literature teacher from Miller Place, NY

What a great list Carrie.

The connections that exist in teaching are at the heart of everything that you wrote-- connections with students, connections with content, connections with colleagues, and connections with inspiring educators on social media like Twitter and Facebook.

This is why social media and tech tools like blogging have enhanced the educational experience for teachers, parents and students. They allow us and our students to form deeper and more insightful connections with others.

(3)

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