The teacher is a profession for which, of course, steel nerves and a lot of energy are needed. And also there is a constant motivation to grow and a desire to become better. Edutopia has published a school history teacher’s advice on how to become a class teacher and not burn out at work.
1. Help others and share experiences
Regardless of how long you have been working as a teacher, there will always be someone who is more successful in some area of teaching. When I was in my first year, a colleague of mine who had worked at a school for a long time asked me to tell how I managed to interest students in the American Revolution. I shared with him the plan of my lesson, which ended with a discussion about whether the colonists did the right thing when they rebelled against British rule. After that, I felt more confident when I had to turn to this colleague for help. And I had to do this often – he wrote excellent written reviews.
2. Find a reliable mentor
It doesn’t matter how much experience you have: be sure to rely on the one who will help you. When I first became a teacher, I spent countless hours chatting with colleagues about work and the mistakes that I made. My colleagues have never condemned me or hinted at the fact that any of the errors cannot be corrected. Instead, they offered working advice on how to redo everything. Regardless of the subject, it is very valuable when both young and experienced teachers help you become better at work. And remember: no one has a monopoly on good ideas.
3. Observe colleagues
I try to watch other teachers in action. For example, I recently watched as one of my colleagues used humorous assignments to make the atmosphere in the classroom a little more relaxed, but at the same time effective. I tried to achieve the same balance in my subject – and it helped. Students began to share ideas and learn from their mistakes more often.
I always try to take an example from teachers who make changes in their daily routine. Of course, it is much easier to teach the same from year to year, but this approach quickly leads to burnout, because it is incredibly boring. Now I am working on an updated version of my history program in order to keep up with what children learn in literature classes. For example, when we are going to go through the Cold War, they will read Alan Moore’s Guardians in English classes. This is a novel in comics with a bunch of awards, where it is just about the Cold War.
4. Explain to students why they need your subject.
I believe that children have the right to know how they learn what they learn in class in real life. In history lessons, I try to move from mechanical memorization to allowing students to analyze events. This is an important tool that will ultimately come in handy for children both in college and at work. During the verification work, I am allowed to use notebooks. It seems to me that in the era of Google it is important not how much the students know, but what meaning they can extract from the information that is now so accessible to them. And also at all classes I clearly make it clear that each of the students in life will definitely need the ability to write.
5. Show that you care about them
To motivate children to learn, I try to show that I care about them not only in the classroom. I accompany them on trips, go to their sports games, performances and student productions. I advise the UN Model Club – this helps me show my interest in diplomacy and the desire to promote change.
I train children in cross-country classes to help them see that I value sport as much as mental development. All the coolest teachers I know understand well that their role goes far beyond the subject they teach. Such teachers have the deepest impact on students, which is noticeable for many years after graduation.