Archive for the ‘Tips for A Beginning Teacher’ Category

Tips for trainee teachers

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

Student teachers were given some invaluable lessons on how the newspaper can be used as a teaching tool in class.

CHARLES Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

While it applies to many different scenarios, this saying also rings true when it comes to conducting a successful classroom lesson.

Knowing no lesson plan is a one-size-fits-all, freelance Star-NiE trainer Mallika Vasugi imparts words of wisdom from her teaching experience to a group of trainee teachers in their final semester.

“You have planned the lesson out beautifully, but from the response of students, you may find that it’s just not working.

“That is why, as a teacher, you sometimes need to modify your lesson on the spot,” she said during a Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) workshop she conducted at the International Languages Teacher-Training Institute (IPBA), Lembah Pantai, Kuala Lumpur.

“You may be assigned into a class where the students may only understand their mother tongue, so you will need to tailor the lesson according to the proficiency of the students,” Mallika added.

The group of trainees at the institute were nearing the completion of their course and were looking forward to the workshop as it gave them the opportunity to experience the session entirely as students.

They participated in the activities with full enthusiasm as the trainer demonstrated different types of fun activities that could be done using the newspaper – from simple ones such as scavenger hunt to the more advanced role playing acts.


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Awesome classroom visual featuring 10 tips for new teachers

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Here is an awesome visual outlining some practical tips for those of you who have just landed a teaching position. This visual is created by ASCD and is based on ASCD New Teacher Bundle (this is basically a 3-book bundle packed with sound advice from educators who understand the challenges of those early years in classroom). The visual is also available for free download in PDF format so that you can print it off and use it in your class or office.

Here is a round-up of the 10 tips featured in this visual:

1- Have clear goals and a big vision for students to learn and achieve at high levels
2- Deny yourself and students the option of failure
3- Learn and grow everyday
4-Celebrate success and reward students with activities that enhance their learning
5- Kick-start students thinking by beginning a class with a provocative statement
5-Use students’ strength in knowledge and behaviours to help them learn.
6-Incorporate into your lessons physical and social activities as well as intellectual activities.
7- Consider joining mentor program or teachers union.
8- Be flexible and respond to students learning needs.
9- Share with students the strategies you use yourself.

Click Here to download and view the full version of this visual

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Muhyiddin Suggests Would-Be Educators Focus On Quality Education

Friday, April 18th, 2014

GEORGE TOWN:  Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has urged would-be educators to pay attention to quality education.

Would-be teachers should stress on the issue of quality so that they could boost their level of proficiency in numerous aspects, the deputy prime minister told 2,000 staff of the Teachers’ Teaching Institute (IPG) who attended a friendly gathering this evening.

“Out there today, society is discussing our quality of education. I can proudly state that we have successfully churned out those who have even gone abroad to study, and children who have passed the SPM, for example, are accepted at any institution of higher learning as a result of our education system.

“And this, I feel, is a product of our leadership at the education ministry level and the roles played by every level of teaching manpower or teachers,” said Muhyiddin, who is also education minister.

He said, although this was already regarded as successful, there were still those who were doubtful whether the education development plan which had already been launched, could achieve a better level.

“This is why, we need teachers who are not only trained but also trained in the best possible manner,” he added.

Muhyiddin said would-be educators should be moulding characters and becoming examples to the young generation because the world was currently facing challenges related to noble values and immorality.

“Teachers who are produced by institutions should understand the target and direction of the nation and their role and responsibility as educators to produce a united society,” he noted.

He said educators would decide the future of the nation because to a large extent, it depended on their capability to churn out people who were trained with knowledge, skill and expertise.


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Advice for the First Day of Class: Today We Will

Friday, August 16th, 2013

The first day of class is critical. What happens on the first day, even in the first moments, sets the tone for the entire course. The impression you make will last the entire semester, and today’s students are not shy about sharing their opinions. Most students will make up their minds about the course and the instructor during that first class period.

That is why you must use the first day, the first moments of class, to inspire confidence in your abilities and create a classroom atmosphere where the rules are clear; expectations are high; and yet students feel welcome, comfortable, and engaged.

Remember that your classroom will develop its own distinct environment and culture. If you don’t make a concerted effort to set the tone, the students will. Most everyone has been in or in front of a class with an adversarial dynamic, yet no one wants to feel at odds with students. A tense, disorganized, or, worse, hostile atmosphere interferes with your pedagogy and impedes student learning. It wastes time and disengages students. It leads to poor evaluations. Moreover, it is unnecessary and easily avoidable.


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The 33 Digital Skills every 21st Century Teacher shoule have.

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Every single teacher is concerned about his/ her teaching practices and the skills involved in this process. How many times have you wondered about a better way to teach the same lesson you have delivered to an earlier class? How often have you used technology to engage your students and improve their learning ? These are some recurring questions we keep regurgitating each time our teaching skills are put to the test.

It is amazing how technology has changed the whole world giving rise to new forms of education we never thought of. Our students are more digitally focused than any time before. They spend more time interacting with their mobile devices than they do with their parents or close relatives. Admittedly, this digital boom has both  positive and negative impact on our students. Lack of concentration, short attention span, distraction, visual  stimulus overload, identity theft, lack of real world socializing, privacy issues, depression, and many more are but a direct result of the growing exposure to this technology. Studies have even proved that multitasking, which some educational technology experts brag about in relation to the use of today’s technology, reduces the power of our concentration to the half.  We should not, However, only look at the empty side of the cup, the other side is way bigger.

There are  actually several pluses for the use of technology in education and to try and list them  all here is way beyond the scope of this short post. Generally speaking,  no two argue over the fact that technology advantages in education ( and in our life at large ) way  outnumber  its downsides. It is thanks to technology that you are now reading this post and will probably share it with your colleagues.

There is no blinking the fact  that the type of students we teach today are completely different from last century’s. We , definitely, need to look at some of the skills we, as teachers, need to equip ourselves with to better live up to the challenge. Among all the challenges we would have in education, there is not as daunting a challenge as catching students focus and getting them engaged in the learning process. For this particular reason, and in addition to the skills I initially mentioned in 21st Century Teaching Skills article, I would like to provide you  with another list of  some equally important digital skills that you, as a teacher, need to seriously consider if you want to pave the way for the 21st century teaching. I have added a list of web tools under each skill for teachers to better exploit it.

Strategies for Writing Better Teaching Philosophy Statements

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Teaching philosophy statements are now prepared for a variety of reasons: as part of a job application process; to be included in a promotion and tenure dossier; for a teaching award; or to foster reflection about how and why you teach. Regardless of purpose, the goal ought to be preparation of statements that reveal those beliefs and practices characteristic of an individual teacher. Writing teaching philosophy statements that accurately describe the instructional self isn’t easy, given that so many of us begin teaching careers with little training and continue them with episodic professional development. A set of resources can do much to assist the process and an impressive collection appears in the article referenced below.

Among resources included in the article are summaries of seven websites that contain a range of materials on teaching philosophy statements, including definitions, suggested formats, writing exercises, sample statements, and rubrics that can be used to assess them. It also contains a list of questions that can be answered when writing about learning goals, teaching methods, assessment of student learning, and assessment of teaching.

Several writing exercises are proposed that would not only help candidates prepare statements that might stand out, but that are wonderful ways to deepen individual reflection about teaching and learning. For example, “Think about a moment in your classroom when you and the students were having a great time. Write about that ‘great moment’ using the following series of questions: What was the topic and activity during which this great moment happened? What was the goal of the activity? How did you structure the activity? What did students do during the activity? How could you demonstrate that the activity resulted in significant student learning? How does this great moment exemplify what you value about your discipline and your personal and instructional style?” (p. 140)

This is followed by the suggestion that you write about a not-so-great moment, responding to a similar set of prompts. Or you might start with a “story” that “refers to a pivotal moment, either in your own learning or in your teaching.” (p. 140) Finally, there’s a prompt that asks you to imagine that you are being interviewed for a magazine article about effective teachers. Here are some of the questions you can expect to be asked: “What is a ‘personal best’ achievement for you as a teacher during the past year? What of your worst qualities as a teacher would you throw away? If you wrote a book about teaching, what would the title be?” (p. 141)

They also identify four areas where most teaching philosophy statements could be improved. “Many early drafts of teaching philosophy statements lack concrete evidence of student learning and assessments of teaching.” (p. 142, bold added) Here writers need to either include or write about those classroom artifacts and evidence that constitute proof of learning and good teaching.

For new teachers or teachers without much experience, it can be challenging to write about the breadth and depth of teaching experience. But if different courses and different student populations have been taught, those should be described. And whatever the teaching experience, writers can explain how an experience in one instructional setting would inform what they would do in a different setting.

by Maryellen Weimer, PhD.

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Classroom Management Tips for Regaining Control of the Classroom

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Losing control of the classroom can be one of the most frustrating and intimidating experiences for both new and experienced teachers. Losing control can happen in several different ways. The most common would be where the class is distracted. This could be from a situation outside the classroom such as noisy conversation in the hall, or from an event elsewhere that students find out about, such as a rumor of the football coach getting fired. Losing control can also happen within the classroom, such as when one student monopolizes the discussion, or where there is a general lack of interest in the lecture, and many students are obviously not paying attention. Here are nine possible ways to regain students’ attention.

1. Have a distinct sounding object, such as a bell or cymbal. As long as you don’t use it too often, this can be an effective way to bring student’s attention back to the lecture or class discussion.

2. Signal non-verbally, and make eye contact with students when they hold side conversations, start to fall asleep, or show contempt for the lecture material. You can also use hand signals to encourage a wordy student to finish what he or she is saying, or make a time out “T” sign with your fingers to stop unwanted behavior.

3. Remember what your parents told you when a sibling was bothering you. Sometimes it is best to ignore mildly negative behaviors. Often the behavior will disappear if you do not pay any attention to it.

4. Discuss very negative behaviors in private. During break or after class firmly request a change in behavior of those students who are disruptive.

5. Use humor. One of my favorite techniques is to stop the lecture, put on a mysterious expression, and look directly at the disruptive student.

6. Rein in over participators.
If somebody monopolizes a discussion, I acknowledge the value of their viewpoints and invite them to discuss their views with me during a break.

7. Implement participation rules. Tell the class that you would like to use rules such as the following: Only students who have not yet spoken can add to the discussion moving forward. Each new comment must build on a previous idea, etc.

8. Mix it up. If the last idea does not work very well, change the method of participation.

9. Don’t take it personally. Many problem behaviors have nothing to do with you.

by Rick Sheridan.

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How to Write a Lesson Plan

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Teaching is an art that conglomerates various skills together. Along with the profound knowledge of the concerned subject, you ought to have the skills to impart your knowledge effectively. The importance and utility of teaching aids in the process of teaching cannot be undermined. It is not just enough to be a good teacher, as you also need certain teaching aids at your disposal. Lesson plan is one such important educational tool that allows the teachers to plan their lessons beforehand. Before we delve deeper into the nuances of writing a lesson plan, let us try to explore the purpose of lesson plan.

Purpose of a Lesson Plan

Lesson plan allows the teacher to plan and organize his lesson. Meticulously planned lessons are anytime better than spontaneous lectures, where the teacher himself is not aware of half the things. Planning the lesson beforehand allows the teacher to gather some insight on what the lesson is all about, what are the teaching aids at his disposal and what is the final outcome expected. This information can be of immense importance for a substitute teacher, if you have to avail a leave without prior notice.

How to Write a Lesson Plan

Set Your Goals
This is the first step while planning a lesson plan. You have to set certain objectives for your class to achieve. For instance, while planning a math lesson for basic arithmetic for elementary kids, set a goal that by the end of the lesson, your students should be able to perform simple additions. You should also set long term goals so that you can evaluate the progress of your students at the end of year. You should be able to tell if the goal can be accomplished or not.

Understand Your Class
While planning a lesson for your class, it is of utmost importance that you know your students well. Take into account various factors such as the subject, the age of the kids, their interest, their academic progress etc. This information will help you to plan your lesson wisely. Also, you’ll be able to distribute your time according to the strength and weaknesses of your students. Certain sections in the lesson may require more time than the rest. This is particularly true when you are writing a lesson plan for elementary school children with diverse interests.

Prerequisites can be in terms of material things or they could be conceptual. Analyze what are the concepts or skills that your class needs to possess before you proceed for a certain lesson. This will avoid any possible rift between what you impart and what your students gather. Also, make arrangements for the relevant teaching aids in advance. When writing a lesson plan for preschool kids, you need more of teaching aids and less of actual teaching. Thus, it is necessary to plan your educational aids beforehand. This will avoid any 11th hour hassle and also make things easier for your substitute teacher.

Lesson Procedure
Once you gather an insight upon what your prerequisites are, you may proceed to planning the actual lesson. Plan your opening section, then go on explaining the main lesson. Elaborate the activities that you would like your students to undertake for better understanding of the lesson. Lastly, think about how you want to conclude your lesson. Do not forget to summarize the lesson and emphasize on important aspects of the lesson. Also, plan a follow-up activity so that the information is retained in the minds of your students.

Evaluation of Goals
This needs to be done at the end of the lesson. You are required to gather evidence if you and your students have accomplished your corresponding goals and objectives. Evaluation will help you to plan your next lesson with more expertise.

Lesson plan is a great way of determining the course of your lesson, so that both the teacher as well as students are benefited.

by Ashwini Kulkarni Sule.

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Advice to New Teachers and New Students: Learning is a Quest

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Three new teachers at the front end of academic careers, about to face their first classes as teachers, want to know from somebody at the back end, “What’s most important for new teachers to know?” I don’t hear myself saying anything very coherent. I don’t want to give what new teachers frequently get: pat answers and banal suggestions that seem to be helpful without actually being so.

I’m spending the day with a wonderful group of faculty (most of them not new teachers) who teach a two-semester Focused Inquiry course required of all first-year students at their institution. It sounds like a fantastic course with content that grows out of a theme-based set of readings. The faculty’s clear focus on learning and students is so refreshing.

But it’s the query from the new faculty that has followed me home. After thinking more, I’ve come up with an answer.

Recognize that learning is more important than teaching. It’s very easy for students and teachers to get focused on the teaching. Students ask each other: “Do you like your teachers?” “Do you have any good ones?” Teachers ask, mostly themselves, “Is my teaching any good?” “What else should I be doing?” Teaching is terribly important. It can contribute so much to learning, but it’s not essential. Learning can happen without teachers, which means there’s no justification for teaching that doesn’t promote learning. This is why the focus on learning is more fundamental and why the best ways to improve teaching grow out of understanding how students are learning.

Consider questions more important than answers. Learning is a quest powered by questions—the curious inquiry that transforms into a powerful need to know. Teachers and students have the right (or is it an obligation?) to ask questions. They may direct the questions to each other, to classmates and to themselves. They should question the ideas and information set before them. They should question answers, their own and those of others. Learning is the difficult but joyful pursuit of answers and answers are good, not for what they settle, but for the new questions they raise.

Take advantage of the opportunity to learn. College isn’t much of an experience for those who know everything or for those who’ve got all the answers. But college may be the best place in the world for learners. There are more of them per square inch at a college than any place else. Colleges exist for the purpose of learning. Granted, not all learners in a college know the same things or have the same levels of expertise, which is why students have much to learn from teachers. But teachers are learners, too, and for every learner there is always more to know; about what is already known and what is, at the moment, unknown.

When learners gather, they do so in a space of possibility. In that space shared by learners, new ideas may be formed, new discoveries made, and this creation of knowledge is a possibility whether you’re the teacher or the student. A bit of magic and some mystery surround the learning spaces in classrooms, including those online. Many days, as learners work together, things seem pretty mundane.

by Maryellen Weimer, PhD.

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Teaching with Confidence: Advice for New Faculty

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

In the now classic article Confidence in the Classroom: Ten Maxims for New Teachers, author Jim Eison offers priceless advice for new teachers. Over the years, I have given hundreds of copies of this article to new and not-so-new faculty. Even though it was published more than 20 years ago, it still deserves a place in your collection of indispensible articles on college teaching.

The type of confidence Jim outlined in the article is not to be confused with arrogance—that overbearing pride that finds expression in classrooms where how much the teacher knows is regularly displayed and compared with how little the students know. Those overbearing types are not likely to be reading a blog like this so that’s not what’s on tap today.

We all know that effective teachers teach with confidence, but what makes Jim’s article so great is that he identifies the sources of that confidence. It starts with a clear-eyed examination of why you teach. For the money? Not likely, and not a sustaining reason. For the glory? Not likely. How many rich and famous college teachers do you know? For the students? Now there’s a more promising possibility. Because the future depends on people knowing what you teach? Another possibility with potential. There will be different reasons but they must be ones that energize the intellectual, emotional and physical demands of teaching. Teachers of any age will enter the class with confidence and poise if they are there for important reasons. It’s good to regularly revisit yours.

You teach with confidence when you know the ingredients and components of effective instruction—when you know what good teachers do. Good teaching is not a mystery; it isn’t a gift. It’s compromised of acquirable skills—meaning you can learn what the skills are and work to develop them. Research starting in the 30s has identified the ingredients or components of effective instruction with remarkable consistency. Jim’s article offers a neat summary of three: speak actively (be expressive and enthusiastic), teach actively (engage students, let your teaching be about their learning), and care actively (be concerned about your students; their lives and learning).

You teach with confidence when you are prepared—when you go to a course or a specific class with explicit goals in mind. You know what you want to accomplish and you’ve planned how that will happen. That doesn’t mean that you’re inflexibly married to the plan for the day. There should be digressions and unplanned opportunities for learning, but after they happen they can be folded into your larger course plan. Being prepared isn’t about perfection. Good teachers hold themselves to high, but achievable standards. You teach with confidence when you know you’ve done your homework, when you’ve prepared as intensely as you hope your students have. But you teach realistically; teachers tend to prepare more intensely than students.

by Maryellen Weimer, PhD.

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