10 Tips for Teachers

Tips to help both new and experienced teachers build rapport, motivate students, use teaching aids effectively, and more.
1) Be Prepared
Before you set foot in the classroom, make sure you have a plan for the course and class. Share your plans with your class – distribute a syllabus on the first day and post the objectives for the day on the board at the beginning of each and every class.
2) Use a Variety of Approaches
Plan a variety of approaches and activities for each session. In a single class, you could have a teacher lecture, a small group discussion, and a written reflection assignment. Varying teaching strategies appeals to learning style differences and keeps participants attentive and engaged. Aim to get participants out of their chairs and interacting at least once per class.
3) Encourage Interaction
Have students work in pairs or small groups whenever possible: to check homework questions, to prepare presentations, etc. Not only does interaction acknowledge and draw upon the tremendous experience and knowledge adults bring to the classroom, but students gain confidence as they check and confirm answers with their peers. Having a network of friends can enhance a student’s academic success.
4) Address Students by Name
Addressing students by name helps build rapport. While taking attendance, record students’ names (and possibly identifying qualities) on a seating plan. Don’t call upon students in a predictable pattern, and mark the plan each time you ask a student a question. This way, you’ll routinely call upon everyone more or less equally. At some institutions, you can request a class list which includes photos from student cards. Otherwise, take Polaroids or digital images and cram before the next class.
5) Use the Board Effectively
Bring your own whiteboard markers and/or chalk and an eraser to every class. Record lesson objectives in a margin of the board at the beginning of class. Be sure to note key points, homework, etc. on the board. Monitor the size, pressure and legibility of your writing. Use a variety of colors for emphasis and clarity. Baby wipes are great for cleaning your hands at the end of class (They work well for cleaning overhead transparencies, too)!
6) Use Other Audio-Visual Aids Effectively
Audio-visual aids such as overhead projectors and transparencies, flip charts, audio and video players, etc. can be tremendous assets when used effectively, but great liabilities when not. Check equipment before class to ensure that it is working, that you know how to use it, and that tapes and counters are cued. Position the equipment and yourself so that everyone can see and/or hear clearly.
7) Manage Handouts
Try telling students that you will be giving a handout after presenting the material, but that you’d like them to listen and think for now. Don’t just read handout material passively to students, present the main points and elicit support and examples from the class. Whenever possible, double-side handouts to conserve paper. Punch holes to help students file them neatly in their binders.
8) Check for Understanding
Asking students the question, “do you understand?” is an ineffective means of checking comprehension. Depending upon the focus of the lesson, check comprehension by 1) asking students to make a choice such as, “Is this statement true or untrue?” or “Is the best answer A or B?” 2) giving a demonstration of a practical task; or 3) brainstorming further examples to illustrate a point.
9) Give Feedback
Keep feedback focused and positive. For example, if you are giving a lesson on verb tenses, and a student provides an answer with correct verbs but incorrect articles, congratulate the student on their accurate use of the verbs. Try engaging the entire class by asking whether they agree or disagree with an answer. If some students disagree with an incorrect answer, elicit the correct response.
10) Ask for Feedback
Give students regular opportunities to provide anonymous feedback on your teaching and the course. New teachers are encouraged to invite feedback from experienced mentor teachers as well. Acknowledge and respond to feedback with grace. Clarify content or make adjustments to your teaching style as necessary.