Tinejdad, Morocco – Growing professionally as a highly effective teacher is not that easy. It is a matter of struggle, patience, and commitment to improve one’s potentials and capacities. When young teachers embark on teaching, they usually feel excited and internally motivated.
Yet, as time passes, those boiling feelings of passion and fondness start getting colder and colder, dragging down a large community of teachers and educators to the lowest level. Such degradation is often embodied in the feelings of boredom, passivity, and laziness; and it reflects negatively on the educational process in particular, and on the educational system as a whole. On the other hand, a few teachers keep their motivational signals twinkling, trying all the best to grow personally and professionally. Throwing a quick glance at the reality of both communities helps you dispel the fog over the secret habits which can make you so effective. This op-ed article comes to accentuate five habits effective teachers apply in their life-long career.
1- Think reflectively:
Reflective thinking is the process of thinking critically by making use of your cognitive skills and strategies to reach the desired outcomes of your plans and prospects. Some refer to it as directed thinking because it is an outcome-oriented process through which you meet some specific aims or work out certain issues and challenges. That is, to teach effectively, you must think reflectively. Reflection also means thinking back over your past experiences for better performance and achievement in the future. This is not to say that reflective thinking is a mere processing of thoughts and past memories. On the contrary, it is an actual demonstration of your impressions, feelings, and thoughts, embodied in the form of reports, polls, or surveys to address a critical teaching or learning situation. In short, reflective thinking is the mental processing of your experiences for the purpose of refining and perfecting your future choices, plans and behavior.
2- Go beyond the norms
It is a shame on a teacher today to go on one boring recipe or diet in such a free and runaway world. The curse of white stones and black boards is as much primitive as the way of life during the Stone Age when people used stones as implements by which to solve a variety of problems and realize a number of achievements. Today, a large number of teachers still live under such a dusty world, unwilling to get rid of textbook slavery and dark dungeons. It is true that teachers in Morocco are compelled to try such primitive tools and cope with the restless but stagnant reality of our education, yet they have numerous and renewing opportunities for freedom and change.
Going beyond the norms of the primitive traditions of education calls for the effective use of the new technologies. The latter, if used appropriately, empowers teachers to vary their tools, overcome their problems, and increase their students’ desire for learning. A computer, be it a laptop or a desktop, is a must-have machine for every teacher. Thanks to it, one can devise his own ELT materials: handouts, visuals, learning apps, interactive lessons and quizzes…etc. Besides, the new educational technologies enable teachers to create their personalized or professional interactive environments, such as virtual classrooms, where they can share all that stuff with their students and fellow teachers. Going beyond the old-fashioned borders (ways and tools) of teaching is a must for every teacher willing to keep apace of the new trends in modern education.
3- Plan creatively
Planning is the process of connecting theory to practice. It is also the process during which a lesson success or failure is planned. For that reason, a teacher must consider five crucial qualities while planning a lesson: theoretical awareness, intelligence, creativity, imagination and expectation. These, I believe, are the key elements of effective lesson planning, because they are all about envisioning your lesson/session, from opening to closing, before it is done. Such a process allows you to predict any potential situation and devise the necessary ways and means to treat it. A plan also embodies a particular learning model. Be it a PPP model (Presentation, Practice, and Production), an OHE model (Observation, Hypothesis, and Experimentation) or a 5 Es learning cycle model (Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Elaboration, and Evaluation), your creative touches must stamp your plans and elevate your performance.
4- Stay online
Keep abreast of the new events and innovations in the field of education, and put into practice anything you think is interesting to update yourself and better your job. Never rely on anyone to break to you the news or keep you updated with the global changes in education. Take the initiative by yourself and surf frequently in the net for news related to the branches of teaching and learning (methods and approaches, classroom management, Information and Communication Technology, assessment and evaluation, values education…etc). To stay online does not mean to set your Facebook status online so that your colleagues will acquaint you with the news, nor does it mean to wait for the Ministry of Education to issue new circulars or notices; it rather means navigating over numerous official webs specializing in the field of education and exploring the latest reports, surveys, polls, studies, and experiments. Be it by searching in the net or by attending pedagogical meetings, updating one’s knowledge and practices is of paramount importance to catch up with the latest developments in your job.
5- Be productive
Don’t just consume what others produce. This is why a computer is a must-have machine for every teacher. Learn to develop and adapt your own materials using a variety of computer applications. Learn to use Microsoft applications such as Office Word, Office PowerPoint, and Office Publisher to devise your teaching materials (handouts, lesson summaries, graphics, tasks, web pages, brochures, booklets, flyers…etc). Try Hot Potatoes, Wondershare quiz creator, ispring quiz maker, or Ispring Presenter to create lively interactive quizzes and courses. Learn to use Adobe Flash Professional to build communicative animations/situations for your students. Organize and integrate all that content into an auto-run compact disk (CD) application, and put it at your students’ disposal. Do all you can, but don’t just consume what others produce.
These are enough habits to make you so productive, updated, creative, open, and reflective; so take the initiative and develop more good habits to make the best of teaching. All the best!