After many years of service as an educator, and having traveled and taught in the USA, UK, China and Australia, there are several defining factors which contribute to an effective classroom teacher. These integral factors concern: rapport with fellow staff, management of the classroom curriculum, behavior management, parent relationships and also creating novel classroom events through the use of classroom games. Addressing these areas will ensure your success through the year and will also create professional opportunities for career developments and changes down the track.
Teaching is a draining, ambitious profession in which you control the fate of the next generation of the world's youth. Instilling in your students a sense of wonder for the world in which they live is an important aspect of your job. However, after a day of teaching and undertaking preparation for the next day's activities can be an onerous task leaving little time for extracurricular activities and friends.
As an educator, your time should be sent on the quality delivery of lessons and the rapport you develop with your students; not in the development of resources or in spending time recreating the wheel for novel ways of behavior management activities or resources.
BE THE TEACHER KIDS RESPECT, AND YOUR COLLEAGUES ADMIRE
Think back to what it was that you remember most about the teacher that made the most difference in your life. To be this teacher, you need to develop a rapport with your class and establish classroom dynamics through a supportive learning environment. You can achieve this through the interactions and interest you invest in your students and through initiating student interaction through classroom games and activities. Use these games as the "carrot" for working hard on lessons, and create fun behavior management systems that promote positive reinforcement. You kids will work harder, and engage in your lessons in an effort to acquire points towards your incentives, which will eventually become internalized and develop your students into responsible, courteous citizens.
Behavior management activities such as: Passport to the World where students receive a passport which they use to keep a track of all the countries they have visited. Clay stamps created by the students representing a variety of countries can be stamped into passports for good behavior and a prize can be issued to the student who has accumulated the most travel miles or countries.
Another method is the Class Auction, where students have a bank book and receive fictional money to add to their savings, either by providing photocopied class money or writing the amounts in their personal checkbook. At the end of the week, students use the money they have incurred to either buy items for preset amounts or to bid for items in an auction fashion with the highest bidder receiving the money.
Establishing effective classroom management will alleviate the behavior issues and help to establish classroom routines which will be noticed by your collections and parents.
A way of promoting good will amongst your year level collections is to have morning tea made for meetings; photocopying ahead of time useful materials; placing novel tricks and funny quotes in their mailboxes and remembering to be positive when interacting.
FAST-TRACK YOUR PLANNING
As a year level you should have mapped out with your colleagues the term's focus of work for each subject. Your job next is to then teach sequential lessons to build up the knowledge base of your students in each subject-culminating with an assessment of their learning. This is where teacher eBooks are the most invaluable, inexpensive tool you will come to love. Seek out eBooks pertinent to your subject area and download instant materials to your computer ready for use on classroom projectors, smartboards and to create booklets for students to work through. The quality of the resources are the same as materials you are able to purchase from teacher bookshops at a fraction of the cost, from as little as $ 2 with numerous inclusions.
Parent rapport is essential in ensuring a smooth flowing year. Many schools alleviate this issue by providing an open house night, where parents come along and the classroom teacher presents an outlay of the year's work and also their behavior management strategies and systems. Also ensure that parents have an open stream of communication via email and telephone – even you are not a drop in center. Advise parents that booking in appointments is essential as your time is spent sourcing out curricular resources; simply dropping in for a chat is not appropriate. This also gives you time to acquire any documentation for the meeting. Keep a record of all accidents in an incident book, and track all assignments and homework. If at any stage there is an issue, do not delay. If you do not feel comfortable or are unable to get in touch with a parent write a quick letter and post it through the school mail system. A fun day held throughout the year such as a picnic in the park is a great way of getting parents and the kids together for a fun few hours on the weekend outside of the classroom context.
NOVEL CLASSROOM EVENTS AND CLASSROOM GAMES
Have times throughout the year where parents can come along and witness their child in a school related context, ie school assemblies, grade level plays, spelling bees, classroom auctions, book reading events, special guest days and art afternoons. The kids enjoy the opportunity of preparing for an event, and the parents are able to see their child interact with fellow peers.
In conclusion, to be an effective teacher and to save you valuable time you do not need to spend countless hours creating resources from scratch or thinking of creative / novel approaches to making your classroom a fun, engaging learning environment. After a day's teaching, a minimum of 20 minutes at the end of the day will equip you with the material you need for the subsequent day's teaching – it is all a matter of developing effective time management skills.