How to Be a Teacher

Six Methods:Initial set-up and approachTeacher conductOptions for student motivationFew rulesMany proceduresEducator Resume

Becoming a successful and wise teacher is more than just getting a degree, and getting a position at a specific school. There is also more to teaching than just standing up in front of a class and explaining lessons (being a lecturer is called "teacher centered" class) and is not very engaging to the less motivated students. "Student-centered" classes mean that the teacher is a leader, or guide, and not much time is spent lecturing (except when quickly introducing concepts, assignments and to clarify concepts in closure).

Preparing the classroom, and the lessons takes time and so do keeping records and planning–so you need to set up routines and actually teach the procedures that you will require or else you cannot say, "Sam, you know what I expect..." or "Cheri, you know what to do!"

Method 1
Initial set-up and approach

The way in which you set up your classroom and your attitude will have an enormous impact on your teaching effectiveness. It is worth putting a lot of effort into this aspect of your teaching and starting off on the right foot each new year. The following suggestions will provide you with some ideas for getting your classroom into good shape.

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    Decorate your classroom. Put up one wall section that says something like "Kids at Work." Another wall area should say, "Focus Wall," that shows what the class is learning, and a "Word Wall" of vocabulary is good for any new concepts.Another wall should be about a special topic such as reading, spelling, social studies, or upcoming tests. The idea is that all wall spaces can become learning centers, instead of just using bulletin boards.
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    Update displays and walls. They need to include current subject matter to be effective and interesting. These displays are good for enrichment, review and for reminders.
    • Have helpers for the displays and walls: hold clubs outside of class or ask the six weeks or quarterly class officers or even room parents to help with the subject walls and bulletin boards.
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    Consider arranging your students' desks into two areas by room halves. Put about four or six rows and have a walkway for yourself in between the two sections. This lends itself to creating teams that inspire motivation. Your students' desks should allow easy viewing of the main presentation area and whiteboard.
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    Be secure and keep your students and yourself safe. In many schools any visitors are required to sign in at the office and have an identification sticker or "ID-tag" for security and control (including regularly scheduled ones like room parents).
    • Always be prepared to challenge unknown people as to their purpose for being in the school.
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    Establish a "Positive Zone". Post a sign above or by the door which reads "Positive Zone for students, teachers and parents". Doing this creates a refuge from negative feelings, both yours and the students' and their parents. Take a positive attitude. If you are not having a good day, leave those feelings outside the classroom. Smile and "choose" the more positive attitude. This doesn't mean there is trouble if you're not always positive, it simply means that you aim to encourage everyone showing a positive attitude to each other, and that you encourage everyone to get along and have a positive experience.

Method 2
Teacher conduct

The manner in which you conduct yourself will flow through to your students. They are watching you at all times, sizing you up and making choices based on how you respond and cope in the class situation, so establishing your authority in a caring and respectful way from the start is of great importance. Here are some suggestions for this aspect of your career.

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    Treat your students with respect. Students will respond to positive treatment. Students notice how you treat other students and will react accordingly. Treat all students with equal respect. In turn, expect respect back from the students.
    • If you're concerned that the students have a difficult time understanding respectful behavior, besides showing it yourself, it can be helpful to have discussions about respect in class groups. It could even serve as a class topic for a term.
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    Be firm and matter of fact about rules, not argumentative. Occasionally repeating an important phrase or sentence (several times) is an effective way to make it definite and without arguing, being harsh or rude.
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    Walk toward the source of noise, misconduct or toward a particular student, but remain clear of the student's personal space. Back away saying: "I'll be back in a minute", if a student becomes emotional when you confront them at their desk. Or, have the student sit down, if you have a problem with one who is out of the student assigned seating. Unruly students or shy students may object (act out) or withdraw if embarrassed or stressed by to much or too close attention.
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    Focus on student achievement above all. The purpose of education is to improve the knowledge of your students. Plan activities and lessons that will increase student achievement, and plan ways of recognizing even small improvements for each individual student.
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    Collaborate with other successful teachers. You will learn a lot from other teachers on how to deal with students and make your students successful learners. Spend some time talking to them about how they have dealt with particular situations in class and what sorts of things they do to encourage respect, trust, and learning.
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    Be a leader, a person to trust and a person to have learning-fun with. Don't compare one student to another, except saying how great they all are working. "This is so great. Everyone is working." or "What a fantastic job you've all done!"
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    Compliment the work, not the student. Say, "That work was great, so quick." or "Your work is very good, aw perfect." (Not: "You are so smart.") The reason for this is that you focus on the student's effort and therefore don't imply that only smart kids succeed but demonstrate that anyone prepared to put in the effort will succeed.
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    Never threaten. Say what you mean. Do not make idle promises: things that you cannot do or wouldn't do.
    • Don't back down. Bluff with a stone face as in playing cards when you need to make your point. Put on your game-face, namely, be serious and mean it, or students may actually say: "Act like a teacher." Joking around may bring silliness out of students.
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    Use the "teacher-look". This is important because it engenders an air of authority, which students look up to. Look in control, but kind. Smile, remain positive minded. You may want to act like a coach sometimes. Cross the arms and strut. Or, act a little bit like a soldier or officer. Look like you are not amused by misbehavior (that may simply encourage it), and look like you are not confused or shaken up – though you may be upset, do not show it.
    • But, sometimes you may need to calmly explain what is what!
    • Calmly: "I know you are teasing: you don't mean it:"
    • Misconduct occurs: Such as the student gets up and starts toward the door.
    • Instruct: "Stop." - "Go sit down." - "Obey me."
    • The student may turn around and stare at you, or just smile or shrug.
    • Explain: "Follow instructions. I can not allow that. Do as you are instructed."
    • If you say something sarcastic, cold, mean or irritating: Apologize quickly.
    • Say, "I shouldn't have said that. I didn't mean it. I'm sorry."
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    Take a deep breath. Don't rage or cry when you feel embarrassed or infuriated. Observe. If your throat tightens or tears well up in your eyes: Do not wipe your eyes, or sniff. Clear your throat. Breathe. Narrow your eyes. Keep composure. Relax, though you may tremble/shake with anger and dread. Walk. Walk around the room observing.
    • If a students asks, "Are you crying?"
    • Say, "No." Don't explain feelings. Act natural.
    • Just say, "No. No problem." Or, "It's alright. It's okay." (That's you overcoming it.) Get busy, walk across the room and back, observing.
    • With some students: A teacher who cries, will be crying more and more if the students see that they can trigger such emotions.
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    Be consistent. Be persistent. Be fair/wise: sometimes you must (need to) treat everybody the same, whether good, bad or indifferent.
    • Fairness - Two opposite concepts – (1) You must treat everybody as individuals ("differently" according to events/needs). Or conversely: (2) You must treat them all "the same" in some matters as the only way to be fair.

Method 3
Options for student motivation

There are many ways to motivate students and some of the ways may not be things you learned when studying teacher. The most important thing is to experiment a bit to find out what works best for you and to keep adding new ideas as you continue your teaching career. This section provides a number of suggestions that you might like to try.

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    "Jigsaw" an assignment. Give groups a topic such as a reading assignment. Each student in a group would (1) tell each other and agree how to split up and (2) read their part, find information in their part and answer a question. Then (3) the group leader or reporter (or group members) would present their findings to the class, (4) for all everyone to listen, write down notes or answers, and perhaps, discuss and give their take on that groups answers.
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    Make a "scavenger hunt", so to speak. This is where (1) each student individually reads a slip with one of several questions, processes or problems. (2) Each one writes an answer or solution. (3) Then students mingle to seek missing information and write it down to fill in the blanks on a chart, exercise sheet or data-gathering sheet.
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    "Read, pair and share." This involves (1) each one of the students reading separately. Then (2) they form pairs when instructed to pair, and (3) the pairs answer questions or do problems together. This may then move to "check and compare" if that is needed or if there is time.
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    "Check and compare." This is to (1) form groups of two students and work together as pairs to do their part of the assignment and then (2) join with a second pair in a four member group and check and compare the work with each other. Then (3) they return to their usual seating place.
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    "Interview, rotate and discuss." (1) Form an inner circle and an outer circle of students and interview each other as a pair. Then (2) rotate and fill in blanks or boxes on an answer-sheet or chart with information from each student's point of view, about the topic to be discussed. Repeat the interview and rotate once or twice. (3) Discuss the questions and answers to bring out and put together variations of different interpretations, if any.
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    "Make multiple representations." Each group of students is given a math problem for which they are to make a poster, with (1) a drawing/diagram (sketch), or a chart of the situation in the problem, (2) make a relation/function or math expression, (3) make a graph, (4) write a verbal explanation/paragraph, and then the reporter gives a quick presentation to the class and reads their paragraph.
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    "Play motivational Nerf basketball." For academics, get a four inch (10cm) soft-foam plastic/rubber (Nerf) basketball and use a trash can sitting on a chair or table as the basket (or use a plastic breakaway hoops-rim) in the front of the class. Divide the class into two teams, and tape places on the floor or on the wall where the basketball hoop is located for point values for scoring from behind the marks or below the marks (low shots: lying, squatting, or sitting on the floor). Score a hoop from longer distances for more points: from about the opposite end of the classroom for the 6 pointer, a 3 pointer goes closer, 2 is closer, and any similar point system for low shots below the marks.
    • "Play a rewards game" similar to "basketball." This game may help by offering reward points for attendance. “Play basketball-shots” for (1) good behavior/conduct, (2) attendance, or (3) academics for making a score on classwork/test or quiz, or a reward for catching up on classwork and improving ones own grades or as a team – where a team member would earn and receive a shot for their team to make points by shooting the Nerf ball. Shooters could choose from five positions worth 1-5 points from different difficulties of questions answered correctly to then shoot from the correspondingly difficult position if the answer is correct. Lining up for shots in front of the class may make for some thrillingly moments for the student and class.
    • Decide why and how to allow students on each teams to earn the opportunity to play the game. This will be determined by your own rules – but in any case, only how and when you decide to allow playing. A team gets a shot for doing an objective or behavior very well.
    • If a member of the other team doesn't follow class rules then give the other team a shot.
    • Or, as a variation give five free points without shooting, if that works better for test days or other quiet times.
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    "Play Friday-shots quiz game." For academics, consider a variation of the Nerf basketball for such things as a verbal "quiz/quiz-show". Members of the two teams compete for points that are earned in a number of ways.
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    Make it so that the points enable each student to "buy" something (such as a piece of candy, an item of stationery, or other things you know your students would appreciate).
    • Points may be used for receiving "grand-raffle tickets" to be drawn after school is out that year – for improving by the end of the school year, and the prizes are mailed out.
    • The Nerf games can be a year long team type of competition. The winning team may be announced after school is out at the end of the year.
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    Consider class offices, for each team. Have offices such as: a Scorekeeper, and Assistant Coach, and a Captain and Co-Captain with each one serving for a certain time to help you with certain things (in elementary classes call the captains "President" and "Vice President"). You, (the teacher) are the Head Coach. Offices could be rotated among the students who display better conduct.
    • Teams are good for motivation and control, since you can: when one team is noisy, give another team turns to make points – and they'll all learn to be quiet. If your class walks noisily to recess, or anywhere, you might consider letting them out one to three minutes later than they're supposed to be (at the end of the day)–or if they're good, let them out a minute early.

Method 4
Few rules

Where possible, it's a good idea to keep "rules" to a minimum, so that the students know what really matters in terms of obeying, and for other issues are given much flexibility to be self-responsible and thoughtful about doing the right thing and learning to get along with each other.

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    Enforce school rules of the entire building and school grounds, and explain that you will follow the school and district rules. Rules such as: No cell phones on during class; keep your hands to yourself; say only kind things; do as your teacher says; be on time; what to do if you miss a day of school; lawful activities, etc.
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    Set your class rules. Perhaps five or six, at the most, but these are not " the situational procedures". You will need several differing procedures that the students must know or that you must explain at the time of necessity. An effective way to decide rules is to let your classes help decide reasonable rules and consequences, and this way your class should follow and help you to enforce them because they have bought into the ownership of them. They can also decide for some fun things like the point values and reasons for shooting at various distances for the ball game, etc. (see above).
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    Be strict and "you decide" how and when to allow any game or whatever else may be needed. By the same token, be moderate and let a student occasionally have an "oops!", for example:
    • Give them each a credit, call it an "oops!-card", when students are good for a certain length of time, then they can trade their oops!-card which allows them to miss one night's homework or for some other reward.

Method 5
Many procedures

Procedures in class help to keep things running smoothly, provide consistency, and let everyone know where things stand. Procedures are different from rules in that they establish the management of the classroom and develop expectations for responsiveness from the students. This section provides some suggestions.

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    Teach how you manage the class. Use some non-verbal signals or prompts to establish order. For example, perhaps when you raise your hand in a certain way to get class attention (similar to the way they must get your attention by raising a hand) or instead you start clapping a certain way (clap-clap, clap-clap-clap, clap-clap) – and they can join the clapping for a quick funny motivator (keep it short). This is better than shouting, stamping feet or slapping on a wall or table, can get students to smile, and enjoy class, especially for harder subjects.
    • Some teachers use a noise like an instrument (perhaps a recorder) or running a stick over a wooden animal to make a croaking sound. You can some up with many different ideas for noise-makers, and visiting a local trade aid shop can provide many handcrafted options for little cost!
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    Teach the students your classroom procedures the way you need them to be observed. This is quite different from the few set rules. Develop as many procedures as are needed according to and as you have different situations:
    • Classwork: Testing procedures, work turn-in, homework, grades, hallway procedures, etc.
    • Smooth operations: You tell them what to do when entering class and to begin the class, you must reserve the right to say when the class ends, not the bell in any case. Bells may ring at the wrong time, and for varying reasons and you may not have finished class when the bell rings.
    • General orders: Putting away and getting out supplies and books, pencil sharpening, cleaning-up/throwing away trash.
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    On the whiteboard, list topics of what they need to do. Another trick for the worksheets is to have team officers who can give out and take-up and file individual folders or packets (daily or for a change of activity).
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    Know the school-wide procedures. Fire drill procedures versus storm warning/storm watch, earthquake drills, etc. Get the bell schedules for different kinds of days, and keep them available, such as half-days, assembly and pep-rally days, etc.
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    Balance your subjects. Every week, have a "Math Day" and "Language Arts Day". Every other week have a "Science Day" and "History Day". This way you'll be sure that your students have tons of things in mind.
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    Keep all subjects on track. Don't be the teacher who hardly ever gets around to science or math because you only have time for reading, spelling, compositions and handwriting. You'll be in trouble and very unhappy when your students do not make adequate progress or may even regress in those technical courses.
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    Have a class bank in the elementary class. During the beginning of every trimester or semester, have your student's parents each donate five dollars or ten dollars. This way, for parties, or anything, there is no need for parents to donate repeatedly.
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    Plan to have no free periods, no free days or parties, unless the entire school is having a festival-day, homecoming, or other such observance. Talk to the other teachers to get a feel for what goes on at your school.
    • Many school systems will no longer allow "homemade" foods or snacks to be sold or given to students because they may be unsafe/unsanitary. Find out how your school operates.
    • Some teachers do ignore food rules, and such, but the rules are there to protect the school system (and you) against law suits and bad publicity – as opposed to a food incident that could be devastating to student health and safety.
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    Have a room mom or dad in elementary school. They will volunteer a week (or some other period of time) and will help students that need help or can observe students doing an assignment in one area of the room, while you work with a group on another routine or procedure.
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    Avoid messy and dangerous surprises. Keep all supplies put away and locked up if possible, things like paints, glue, art-paper, stapler, paperclips, tape and such or some student(s) will surprise you and get them out to make something or do something. Dangerous, wasteful or messy mischief may be rare, but it is very problematic when it does happen, especially when you have your mind and eye occupied elsewhere. This, of course, is an area for a strict rule to be set.
    • Have things like tissues and wipes on hand for sneezes, messes, and other such things. If you are a high school teacher, have spare sanitary ware on hand for students in need.

Educator Resume

Sample Educator Resume


  • Interesting and fun learning-experiences help students to be engaged (involved) in their learning.
  • For later grades to keep students on their toes, you may make or be furnished two or three versions of a test that look very similar, and have a clear way of identifying each for you with the appropriate answer keys. You may be able to identify the cheaters and create caution in their minds at the same time, by such differences. When the differences are found or discussed tell them that the tests cover the same skills and goals, but in a different order.
    • Have students put their names on test papers immediately to make it harder to switch papers. Do not allow "scratch-paper" during tests, as they are used for passing info or notes.
    • Don't be shocked when a student tells you: "My test is different from that one!" or when some attempt to switch their papers so two or three that are alike will be close together. Students can be very sneaky about such different forms of test.
  • In upper grades where the students have a number of classes, asking for donations at each class would not be practical as that would involve several outlays of cash and materials for parents.
  • A parent volunteer is another set of eyes to watch student activity and conduct, and one can help keep students engaged.
  • An eight inch Nerf ball and full-sized rim may be used for a tournament outside of class.
    • Nerf tournaments played outside of class are based on small subsets of the class team doing a "quiz-show game." Have a checkup quiz at half-time and a double checkup at the end of the tournament for questions that the other team answered correctly. The other team captains may choose questions to be checked upon. This is so the other team will listen, learn and remember the correct answers to avoid missing these "retests".
    • The student may request a question of a higher point value based on requiring more critical thinking, or comparing and contrasting required to answer such questions.
    • The Nerf games teaching might do for academics what games do for athletics. Academic students can receive the experience of helping their team in the games in academics and raise academic interest.
    • Competing to the last day of school may keep student motivation high without a letdown in work, attendance or good behavior related to the games.
    • The student may be less shy, and it may be easier to work with other classmates as a result of the games.
  • Watch the movie "Freedom Writers", which is the story of an inner-city teacher of English or creative writing to "at risk," socio-economically challenged students. It will inspire you.
  • Be strict but nice , be bossy only a bit, let students have their own say, don't allow bullying.


  • Administrators frown on students at the doors, in halls, on door steps, around the school grounds as they cannot be well supervised. The halls and the grounds are also your responsibilities.
  • Do not use metal hoops rims in the classroom.
  • Administrators want learning to be "from bell to bell," without wasted or "free" time at the beginning or at the end of class.
  • Other classes and teachers may complain to you or to the administrators if students are out too early or often, as they may disturb others, or cause anger or envy by other teachers or classes. One must use such rewards thoughtfully.
  • If you plan to become a teacher in Britain, be very careful not to get a criminal record. If you have been convicted of a criminal offence, other than a driving offence, you cannot become a teacher.
  • Non-engaged students (without supervision or without an assignment) are likely to be bored and find amazing ways to "start-something."
  • Holding students late after class can cause tardies, and other teachers, parents and classes can be disturbed by late arriving students (such as when the students have more than one teacher) as when there is a schedule and hall "passing-time" allowance.
  • Discard the hard-plastic hoops ball that comes with the hoops set from toy stores.

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