In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world — often mirrored in our schools — it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and wonder if you’re making a difference. All teachers want to be better, don’t they? And since no one has ever finished learning to teach, continued improvement is a priority of any effective teacher.

Remember that to be better does not mean to be perfect. And becoming more effective does not always mean doing something complicated or time-consuming. Oftentimes, small changes make the biggest difference.

Would you like to make a few small changes and see immediate results? Here are five things you can do tomorrow — without spending money, without learning new programs and without adding stress to your life — that will improve your effectiveness, thus improving student learning and behavior.

  1. Say hello and goodbye. The old saying “Students won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is as true today as it has always been. The simple act of greeting all students daily can set a positive tone for the entire class period. The simple act of telling students goodbye can help them look forward to returning tomorrow. It takes no extra time, money or preparation — but it sends an important message that you care. When students believe you care, they’re more apt to try harder and behave better.
  2. Appear happy and enthusiastic. As teachers, as role models, we are often actors on a stage. Is everything we teach the most exciting and interesting thing we’ve ever taught? No. But the students shouldn’t know that. Would you sometimes rather be doing something else — say, being on vacation — than teaching? Sure. But the students can’t know that. If students don’t believe that you’re happy to be teaching them and enthusiastic about what you’re teaching, they won’t buy into your lessons. You can’t expect them to be any more enthusiastic than YOU are. Unenthusiastic teachers have classrooms of students who are every bit as unenthusiastic. The good news is that the opposite is also true. So teach enthusiastically, and your students will respond fantastically!
  3. Provide a kind reminder about rules and procedures. It is a fact that teachers who set clear rules and procedures and follow them consistently have the fewest discipline problems. Contrary to what some believe, good classroom management is not a question of how nice you are versus how mean you are. It’s about how CONSISTENT you are. You do want to be nice, of course. But if you’re nice and inconsistent, you’re going to have management problems. So if you have been remiss in being consistent, start over tomorrow. Simply provide a kind reminder of your rules and procedures. Tell your students you just want to remind them in case they may have forgotten. And then be consistent.
  4. Make lessons meaningful. Students don’t want to learn what they can’t relate to. Period! You don’t have to change your content. Just change the way you teach your content. For instance, instead of having students identify nouns in sentences, have them attempt to speak without using nouns. It’s a fun activity, and they quickly learn just how important nouns are to language. When teaching anything, simply ask yourself, “Why is this skill important to the students?” Then teach that way.
  5. Play games. Students love to learn through play. So take one activity you’ve already planned and turn it into a game. Instead of asking review questions before a test, play a review game. Instead of having students solve a set of problems at their desks, put them into groups and turn it into a competition. Games don’t have to be elaborate to be fun. Students like to compete, and they enjoy the activity that games provide. When students are “playing,” they forget that they’re learning, and they’re more likely to give the activity their full attention and best efforts.

By taking these five steps, you should see immediate results. Realistically speaking, will all students behave perfectly because you reminded them of rules and procedures? Not likely. But you should see an improvement. Will all students grasp a new concept because you made it relevant or made an activity more enjoyable by playing a game? Probably not. But by doing so, you have increased the likelihood of their understanding and enjoyment. Will all students care that you cared enough to say hello and goodbye? Absolutely!

Wouldn’t you prefer to be in the classroom of a teacher who greets you each day, who appears happy to be teaching you, who is consistent with rules and procedures, and who makes lessons meaningful and fun? Students deserve teachers who teach this way — not only tomorrow but every day!

Annette Breaux (@AnnetteBreaux) is an internationally renowned author and speaker. She is the author of “101 Answers for New Teachers and Their Mentors.” She has also co-authored books with Harry Wong and Todd Whitaker.

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4 Responses to “5 simple ways to be a better teacher tomorrow”

  1. Brenda Hall says:

    Sorry the second sentence should start with "My" not "I"

  2. Joy says:

    Would be nice to have a edit button…

    Other – others… being IN the field..

  3. car games says:

    These beautiful words and the article itself very convincing

  4. xolani says:

    such a convicing and inspirational article, is it making teaching and learning better ans simple