Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tips on How to Become a Good Teacher

What's the difference between a good teacher and and a good educator?

A good teacher doesn't just teach a good lesson, but also aims to educate his/her students. Learning how to become a good teacher isn't only about practicing how to write interesting motivating lessons, but also about finding unique ways how to motivate the students beyond the level of the material. A good educator wants his/her students to think for himself in wasys that can be made possible beyond the level of the textbook. In order to do this successfully and on a consistent, plan at least one activity that engages the student beyond the level of the textbook.

Don't be surprised however if suddenly you find yourself spontaneously choosing a new activity. Often this is what happens to new teachers who are experimenting with new and different things.

One way to do this explicitly is to ask students their opinions of various different issues. The more interesting the questions, the better their responses. In my case, I found that I was able to ask questions when I became more spontaneous. In one lesson, I taught my students about poverty using a rap song to my ninth grade students, I told the students that the next lesson they would learn another side to the rap song beginning with vocabulary.

We focused on the social level awareness of targeted vocabulary. I was looking for ways to go beyond what the book had to offer in terms of how to teach vocabulary and thought about connecting the plight of rappers in the seventies to a social action theme?

Knowing my students, I used a graphic organizer and elicited the social action cycle.

Immigrants come → they live in slum areas → they live in poverty → they join gang members → they are controlled by the gang members (Mafia) → they live in hopelessness →together they create violence

Now came the real icing on the educator's cake:

I asked the class - what are some ways to take action against this?

One student said, "write social rap songs... it's the way to stop poverty and violence."

"What is the one thing that is going to save an immigrant from not entering this cycle of poverty and hopelessness?

The kids said: "self-awareness."

I asked them "Why?" They answered "education. When you know, you have another choice."

In this case, I tried to stimulate my students in non-academic ways in order to help them acquire the meanings of the targeted words which I wanted them to acquire. As you can see, relating to the students on a more direct personal level doesn't have to be completely innovative. Educating students is actually what good teachers are all about. They try to include opportunities to relate to content in a value-centered way.

To receive your free ebook, Taking Charge in the Classroom and other information for new teachers, visit the New Teacher Resource Center at

Dorit Sasson is a freelance writer, educator and founder and director of the New Teacher Resource Center.

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