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Becoming A Successful Teacher

Quora Question: How can one become a successful teacher?

Great question! What does it mean to be a successful teacher?

To me this is the most important measure of success:

To have your students leave the school year being excited about learning and feeling like their time in your classroom was valuable.

  1. Like working with kids and have a passion for helping others.

  2. Don’t try to be perfect. Teaching is messy and no matter how well you plan your lesson, things will happen that are not part of your plan. Roll with it with a sense of humor.

  3. Have a mentor that you respect to go to when you need help.

  4. If possible, do traditional student teaching under a Master teacher or a hybrid version of this rather than jumping in cold turkey as an intern. If that is your only choice, be easy on yourself, reach out to more experienced teachers for support.

  5. Be good to yourself. Teaching is wonderful but can be exhausting. Take time for you so that you can give back to your students. It takes at least 3 years of teaching to really begin to reduce your workload and feel more confident. It’s normal for teaching to be all-consuming at first.

  6. Be creative with how you teach lessons while also keeping your lesson plan tight (tight = on target for your lesson objective).

  7. Collaborate with other teachers to co-teach lessons a few times a year and/or teach with another subject area. For example: Science/English lesson together or Science/Math.

  8. Bring life and relevance to your classroom. For example: When my AP Environmental students were studying soil types I put a big sheet of waxed paper on each table and dumped piles of multiple different soil types on each table. Then we had a “Whose the Best Farmer?” radish growing contest. Super simple to do and the lesson had life and relevance. I was surprised by how many students were unwilling to touch dirt. My mother used to call this, “Good, clean dirt” vs. “dirty dirt.” In her eyes, dirty dirt was a sticky grocery cart while good, clean dirt came from a garden or field.

  9. Teach your students how to study effectively and how their brains work when they are learning. This is incredibly successful. Most students have no idea what it really takes to create new synapses in the brain.

  10. As often as possible, relate your lesson to something that the students find valuable to them. Example: chemistry topic = pH. Relevance? pH of their shampoo, pH of their blood and how critical that is, pH of the ocean and the effects of climate change, pH of alkaline water and if this is a scam or legit.

Final Thought: If you are passionate about teaching and really enjoy working with young people then you will learn how to be a very successful teacher.

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