If you are considering an online program for a master’s degree in education, it is important to learn about the habits of effective teachers. Teaching is an incredibly rewarding occupation, but it can also be challenging. As you develop your own unique teaching style, consider practicing these five habits of great teachers.
1. Practice empathic listening.
Effective teachers understand that school can be stressful for students. Students who are able to build connections with their teachers are more likely to feel supported in working toward their academic goals. Empathic listening is a life skill that takes time to develop. It involves listening intently to another person’s point of view, remaining sensitive to any emotions that come to the surface, and verbally reflecting back what they are saying to ensure that you are understanding their message.
Empathic listening is particularly useful in times of stress or conflict. For example, if problems arise between classmates, a teacher practicing empathic listening will be able to help each student speak and feel heard. This type of listening and communicating is helpful for building trust, reducing tension and creating a safe classroom space in which all students feel valued.
2. Have respect for different learning styles.
Students learn in many different ways. Visual learners need to see a lesson in front of them in order to retain the information, whereas auditory learners do best hearing instructions spoken out loud. Kinesthetic learners appreciate a physical approach, in which they move around the room and physically interact with the lesson. These types of learners do best in an environment that is less structured and more experiential. Read/write learners learn by taking notes, constructing diagrams and writing or reading as they process new information.
Effective teachers understand that they will encounter many different types of learners, and they know how to design the classroom and curricula to reflect the learning needs of a variety of students.
3. Involve everyone in the problem.
Throughout the school year, problems naturally arise in the classroom. These issues often involve behavior of individual students, fighting, skipping class or other problems. As a teacher, you are an important advocate for your students. When a student misbehaves, it is a signal that something more may be going on, such as problems at home, frustration from learning disabilities or social pressures. Involving other appropriate adults (such as other teachers, school administration, guidance counselors or a student’s parents) is essential for diffusing the challenges, establishing more support structures for the student and making sure everyone is informed about the situation.
4. Be receptive to change.
Because research is constantly shifting our ideas about how students learn best, it is important for teachers to remain open to new advancements, technologies and educational philosophies. Effective teaching requires teachers to be flexible, to be able to synthesize new information, and to apply new techniques in the classroom. Earning a master’s degree in education is one way that teachers remain apprised of new advancements in education and develop the skills necessary to put new ideas into practice.
5. Prioritize self-care.
Teaching can be draining. That is why the most effective teachers know how to prioritize their own self-care. Going to yoga, riding a bike or swimming are great ways to get exercise and take care of your body. Physical activity also helps to increase your mental endurance, which is essential throughout the school day.
Many effective teachers find ways to spend quiet time before the students arrive. Arriving early to school, writing in a journal, doing a crossword puzzle or meditating are great ways to begin the day feeling centered and at ease. Eating healthy meals and getting enough sleep are also key components to practicing self-care. When you limit stress in your life by taking care of yourself, this transfers directly into your classroom and can make a huge difference in the atmosphere you create as a teacher.
Earning a master’s degree in education is an important step in gaining the skills necessary to thrive in your career as a teacher. But becoming an effective teacher entails more than just learning how to follow lesson plans — it also includes taking care of yourself, learning to mediate problems, and being open to change.
Learn more about the LSUS online M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction program.
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