Ways to improve your teaching and win over students
Becoming a supply teacher is a fantastic way to enjoy flexible working hours whilst still enhancing the learning of students in whatever school or nursery you teach in. Sometimes though, it can be hard to win over students, especially if they’re used to a set teaching method.
That’s why we wanted to explore some of the steps supply teachers can take to improve their teaching and win over the students they’re teaching.
Involve students in learning
Not all pupils are motivated to learn simply by sitting down and taking notes, they’re more likely to retain information with an active, fully involved lesson. Lessons are becoming more pupil-centred, with the teacher acting as a coach and learning facilitator.
Not only does this help pupils with their learning, it also helps to develop their interpersonal and communication skills, since they’ll be actively engaging with you, as the teacher, and their fellow pupils.
Get away from “chalking and talking”
Making the most of classroom space will reinvigorate and retain the attention of your pupils. It’s tempting to stand at the front of the room and simply teach from the board, but this doesn’t give you a feel for the room and the mood of the students.
Standing at the front of the class subconsciously gives off the impression that you “know the answer to everything”, which can have a detrimental impact on pupils, as they won’t ask questions or take risks with their learning.
When pupils are speaking in front of the class, or even if they’re in a group discussion, make sure you stay away from overcorrection. Highlighting each mistake they make as they’re speaking undermines their confidence, which has a knock-on impact on their motivation.
Listen to what they have to say, thank them for their contribution to the lesson and point out one or two important mistakes that they made. It would be a good idea to remind them that making mistakes is an important part of learning, no matter what stage of life they’re at.
Praise, praise and praise some more
Everyone likes to be praised, it helps boost confidence and show that a contribution that’s been made has been helpful. Praising students is a huge help, especially when it comes to those who aren’t as confident in their abilities.
Even if the pupil has made a mistake in what they’ve said, praise them first and then tactfully move onto how they could improve their answer for the next time. This shows them that you value their input, whilst positively reinforcing the lesson and knowledge from the day.
Identify student helpers
At the start of a lesson, or if you’re in a primary school, at the start of the day, it’s a good idea to identify a small group of pupils that will be able to help you during the day.
Most students will respond well to being given extra responsibility, especially if it’s something that they haven’t been asked to do before. If you’re able to show them that you value your help, the lesson is more likely to run smoothly.
Ideally, you’ll be able to ask another teacher or teaching assistant in the school or nursery about which pupil would make a good helper. If they can’t advise, then ask for volunteers, or make the decision based on first impressions.
Bring your own resources
Schools and nurseries will provide pens, papers and many other resources. However, to ensure that the lessons go as smoothly as possible, it’s a good idea to bring your own.
This doesn’t just apply to stationary, it also relates to any teaching plans that you’ve had to prepare beforehand. You can’t foresee every eventuality, but if you’re prepared then there’s nothing holding back the lesson.
Know your groups
When it comes to interactive learning, some schools or nurseries will already have students grouped together. These have been carefully planned to maximise the time spent learning, but if you’re unsure, then some pupils may take advantage.
To ensure that your teaching day is as smooth as possible, make sure that you ask about the groups beforehand. Ideally, have a list of each group, along with any notes that the permanent teacher may already have.
Make time-fillers fun
There are always going to be gaps in the day, whether that’s between assemblies or when all the pupils have finished their work before the lesson ends. If you want to make sure that the pupils enjoy your lessons, then make sure you have a few fun ideas for time-fillers.
These always go down well and can still be used to reinforce the lesson topics that you’ve been through throughout the day.
In summary, there are plenty of ways that you can improve your teaching methods and win over students. It’s important that you’re able to hold pupil attention, especially if you’re filling in as a short-term supply teacher.
If you’re remembered in a positive light, then the pupils will be more likely to retain the information you’ve given them during your lessons, whilst telling others of how much they enjoyed your teaching style.
What do you think? Are there are any strategies that you’ve used that have been a success? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so make sure you let us know in the comments below.