What students take away from a successful education usually centers on a personal connection with a teacher who instilled passion and inspiration for their subject. It isn’t easy to measure success, and in the world of academia, educators are continually re-evaluating how to quantify learning. But the first and most important question to ask is: Are teachers reaching their students? Here are 25 things successful educators do differently.
1. Successful teachers have clear objectives. In the world of education, your goals for your students act as road signs to your destination. Your plan is the map. Making a plan does not suggest a lack of creativity in your curriculum but instead gives creativity a framework to flourish.
2. Successful teachers have a sense of purpose. Teachers with a sense of purpose who can see the big picture can ride above the complex and tedious days because their eyes are on something further down the road.
3. Successful teachers can live without immediate feedback. It’s hard to give 100% and not see immediate results. Teachers who rely on instant gratification will get burned out and disillusioned.
4. Successful teachers know when to listen to students and when to ignore them. It is no simple endeavor to learn when to listen and adapt and when to say, “No- we’re going this way because I am the teacher, and I see the long-term picture.”
5. Successful teachers have a positive attitude. Good teachers have an upbeat mood, a sense of vitality and energy, and see past momentary setbacks to the end goal. Positivity breeds creativity.
6. Successful teachers expect their students to succeed. Students need someone to believe in them, and they need a wiser and older person to put stock in their abilities. Set the bar high and create an environment where it’s okay to fail.
7. Successful teachers have a sense of humor. Humor and wit make a lasting impression, and it reduces stress and frustration and gives people a chance to look at their circumstances from another point of view.
8. Successful teachers use praise authentically. You don’t want to create an environment where there is no praise or recognition; you want to make one where the praise that you offer is valuable BECAUSE you use it judiciously.
9. Successful teachers know how to take risks. Risk-taking is a part of a successful formula. Your students need to see you try new things in the classroom, and they will watch closely how you handle failure in your risk-taking. This is as important as what you are teaching.
10. Successful teachers are consistent. Do what you say you will do, don’t change your rules based on your mood, and your students can rely on you when needed.
11. Successful teachers are reflective. Successful educators take time to reflect on their methods, delivery, and how they connect with their students. Reflection is necessary to uncover those weaknesses that can be strengthened with a bit of resolve and understanding.
12. Successful teachers seek out mentors of their own. You are never too old or wise for a mentor. Mentors can be that voice that says, “Yes, your reflections are correct,” or “No, you are off because….” and provide you with a different perspective.
13. Successful teachers communicate with parents. Collaboration between parents and teachers is absolutely crucial to a student’s success. Create an open communication path so parents can come to you with concerns, and you can do the same. When a teacher and parents present a united front, there is a lower chance that your student will fall through the cracks.
14. Successful teachers enjoy their work. If you don’t love your work or your subject, it will come through in your teaching. Try to figure out why you feel so unmotivated and uninspired. It might have nothing to do with the subject but your expectations.
15. Successful teachers adapt to student needs. As students grow and change, your methods might have to as well. If your goal is to promote a curriculum or approach, it may feel like an insult when you have to modify it. Make connecting with your student your goal, and you’ll have no trouble changing it up as time moves on.
16. Successful teachers welcome change in the classroom. Change ignites the brain with excitement and adventure. Change your classroom to keep your students on their toes. Simple changes like rearranging desks and routines can breathe new life in the middle of a long year.
17. Successful teachers take time to explore new tools. With the advance of technology, some fresh new resources and tools can add great functionality to your classroom and curriculum. Don’t be afraid to push for technology in the classroom. It is often an underfunded area, but in this current world and climate, your students will be growing up in a world where technology is everywhere.
18. Successful teachers give their students emotional support. Connecting to your students emotionally makes it more likely that they will listen to your counsel and take your advice to heart. Students need mentors as much as they need teachers.
19. Successful teachers are comfortable with the unknown. How satisfied are you with not having all the answers? Good teachers can function without everything tied up neatly in a bow.
20. Successful teachers are not threatened by parent advocacy. Most parents just want what’s best for their children. Successful educators are confident in their abilities and not intimidated when parents want to get into the classroom and make their opinions known. Good teachers also know they don’t have to follow what the parent recommends!
21. Successful teachers bring fun into the classroom. Don’t be too serious. Some days, “fun” should be the goal. When students feel and see your humanness, it builds a foundation of trust and respect. Fun and education aren’t mutually exclusive either. Using humor can make even the most mundane topic more interesting.
22. Successful teachers teach holistically. Learning does not happen in a vacuum, and educators (and the educational model) must take the whole person into account. You can have the funniest and most innovative lesson on algebra, but if your student has just been told his parents are getting a divorce, you will not reach him.
23. Successful teachers never stop learning. Good teachers find time in their schedules to understand themselves. Not only does it help bolster your knowledge in a particular subject matter, but it also puts you in the position of a student. This gives you a perspective about the learning process that you can easily forget when you’re always in teaching mode.
24. Successful teachers break out of the box. Sometimes the biggest obstacle to growth is us. Have you built a box around your teaching methods? Good teachers know when it’s time to break out of it.
25. Successful teachers are masters of their subjects. Good teachers need to know their craft. In addition to the methodology of “teaching,” you need to master your subject area. Learn, learn, and never stop learning. Successful educators stay curious.