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Everyone Can Teach… but it helps to know some valuable tips!

Like so many other little girls, I loved to line up dolls, then younger brothers and sister and neighbors and play school. What I did not realize back in the seventies was that it takes a few special techniques to teach well so that someone will want to learn from you. It took me a few years of teaching to perfect my craft and then as I entered the world of supervision, I realized that not everyone thought like me…. shocking!

I have met so many people that want to get into teaching but were trained in another field and they quickly realize that it is harder than they thought, especially if they are in a brick and mortar classroom. Teachers that have gone through training and student teaching have had the advantage of learning about pedagogy, the science of teaching.  They have studied age development, standards and curriculum and have been able to have a full-time mentor that is there to help them develop and hone their skills. Transitional (New to Education) Teachers do not have those advantages, but it does not mean that they cannot teach well. The first few obstacles that they encounter are:

  • Classroom management
  • Organizing the classroom and curriculum
  • Developing their teacher voice

Homeschooling and online schooling also require some of those skills, but other skills are needed for all types of teaching. It is helpful to be organized and know or research the content you want to teach well. You do not have to be an expert, but you need to not fake it either. When a child asks you a question that you do not know the answer to, be honest and offer to research the topic and get back to them. I am still learning about unusual animals with unusual adaptations from my students every time we study ecosystems. 

Photo courtesy of Meg Jerrad of Unsplash.com

Did you know that an echidna lives in Tasmania, Australia, and New Guinea and has spines like a porcupine, a pouch like a kangaroo, a beak like a bird, and lays eggs? Me either, a student taught me that and I got to learn something new, which led me to research the animal and then have another conversation about this animal’s habitat. 

Teaching online can be fun, and it is a whole different way of teaching, even for trained teachers. You need to be a little tech savvy and that can be either half the battle or half of the fun because you get to learn new software that will help you get your points across. Either way you teach, you can still realize that “lightbulb “moment when children understand a new concept. Not everyone thinks the same about instruction, and that is okay! Teaching online requires some unique skills such as:

  • Catching a student’s attention while they are snacking or have other distractions going on in their homes.
  • Using alternatives to worksheets such as online games, puzzles, escape games or simulators
  • Understanding copyright infringement and best practices

So, you still want to teach, okay, what, when, where, and how need to be answered. 

  • What: Teach what you LOVE, you will be a much more dynamic and happier teacher!
  • When: Teach what is most convenient for you. I currently teach part time in brick and mortar as an interventionist and online. My online classes are in the morning or late in the evening because I teach on a platform that has students from all over the world. 
  • Where: Decide if brick and mortar or online is a better fit for you. How to decide…. visit a school or take an online class and see how that teacher is organized.
  • How: Get started! There are platforms out there that are more flexible than others and there are even platforms where you can teach adults… I do that too!

There are other points to consider such as what age group do you like to work with, or better yet, which age group is best suited for you to teach. What do I mean by that statement? Many education students in college gravitate to either elementary or high school and some choose middle school, but when they actually start their student teaching, they realize that it takes a different kind of energy to teach different age groups. If you like to dress up silly, be more theatrical and jollier in your demeanor, you may want to consider young children. Middle school children and even upper elementary students may roll their eyes at those attributes. High school students can be more academic and depending on the classes you teach, they want no nonsense teachers that will help them learn the content, not be “on stage”. This is what is meant by a teacher voice. Ask your inner self which type of teacher you are and finding a better fit will help you relate to your students better and in turn, they will learn more from you. Respect is earned, not demanded and a respected teacher is a better teacher!

Teri Barenborg, Instructor

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