Dear Education Major, Here’s How to Become an Excellent Teacher
Teaching isn’t just an occupation; it’s a passion. As an education major, you know that teaching impacts every area of your life. But the most powerful impact takes place in the lives of the students that you will mentor and guide.
Enter the beautiful, challenging, and rewarding realm of education. A teacher’s influence on the lives of their students is extraordinary. But to gracefully shape the minds and hearts of your students, you’ll need to build a foundation of excellence in the community of your classroom. Read on to discover what makes a teacher thrive in their position.
Everyone learns a little differently. As an education major and teacher-in-training, it’s important to embrace flexibility as you customize each student’s learning experience to their strengths and weaknesses. There are many different strategies to use in getting to know students’ learning preferences, but the classroom is yours for experimenting. Get creative! It’s okay if your students don’t respond as you expect them to right away.
Go forward and learn as you teach. Plunge into projects with your students, learn about something outside of your required curriculum, let your students choose how they want to learn, and invite them to grow alongside you. Whether that looks like getting messy with paints and watercolors or blocking off times for small group reading discussions, let creativity and adaptability enter into your classroom learning.
Establish Intentional Values in Your Classroom
Incorporating humility, patience, and enthusiasm in the classroom is vital to create a safe and comfortable space for learning. Before your students can genuinely care about you as a teacher and the topics you’re teaching, you have to care about your students and the climate of your classroom. Your humility, patience, and enthusiasm will establish the values that they will learn to strive for.
As you set intentions and foster values in your classroom day by day, a spirit of lifelong learning will grow in your community of students. By focusing on specific principles, your students will be gaining more than just an education, they’ll be developing personal maturity. And don’t forget, you are a role model. As psychologist Karl Menninger said, “What a teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.”
Recognize Failure as Opportunity
Everyone fails. You will fail as a teacher, and your students will fail as students. From miscalculated grades to letting your anger get the best of you in a moment, failure can be hard to process and recover from. But these situations can be redeemed for you and your students.
People learn best when they make mistakes. When a student fails, help them see why they failed. Acknowledge the mistake in order to help them see how they can improve next time, and let them know they’re not alone. Think back to your days as an education major in college or an elementary student and share some of your mess-ups with them. Once they recognize that failure is okay, and they understand the ‘why’ behind their mistake, they will be far less likely to err in the same way.
And when you fail as a teacher, learn from it! If students see you fail and pick yourself back up to try again, they will have a healthy model for failure in the classroom and beyond.
Love Your Students
The most important step towards true classroom excellence is to love your students as they are. In doing this, it is important to practice humility. Don’t be above advice and suggestion. Be patient. Give your students ample time to master topics. Their respect and love for you will develop naturally if you love them for who they are.
As you exemplify love for your students, promote enthusiasm. Just like the yawns that escape the mouths of disinterested students, enthusiasm is contagious. Through humility, patience, and enthusiasm, that healthy and unique love between student and teacher is unavoidable.
Weaving together this stunning fabric of teaching, loving, and learning, you are bound to find yourself with a beautiful tapestry of skills and expertise. And when all else fails, remember to consider students’ needs above personal needs.
“…in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” In any field, there is an opportunity to shine the light of Christ by humbly loving those around us. Love these students, and love them well.
Grace College is here to begin your education adventure with you. As one of the best teaching schools in Indiana, our programs equip education majors studying Business Education, Special Education, to Intense Intervention, and every education major in between. Through the course of the program, education majors will learn the disposition, knowledge, and skills needed to be effective in the field of education.
- Thomas, T. A. (2011, October 11). Ten Traits of a Great Teacher. Retrieved February 19, 2018, from https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/education/catholic-contributions/ten-traits-of-a-great-teacher.html
- Philippians 2:3, English Standard Version