Regular teachers do what they’re paid to do:
Read aloud printed words.
Scribble on the blackboard.
Curse the students for not completing the homework.
The usual stuff, y’now.
They know their job is to teach. And they’re good at it.
But they’re indifferent to what happens (or not happens) to the future of the students—whether it becomes grim or shines like the warm and comforting afternoon sun.
But I know you’re not one of them.
For you, teaching is not a means to an end; it’s not something casual; it’s not just a profession—it’s a rare opportunity to give the students a direction they could’ve never imagined without you.
And so, you work hard to stand apart from the crowd of ordinary teachers:
You try to read as many teaching tips you could.
You ask for better teaching advice from fellow teachers.
You study the subject(s) more thoroughly.
I mean, you do whatever you can to become a good teacher.
And, you do succeed, but still, you feel something’s missing.
What if you wanted to take your teaching to the next level? What if you wanted to experience the “deliciousness” of teaching? What if you wanted to really make a difference with your teaching?
Well, I can help you with that.
I can help you not only make a difference but also earn students’ respect, and stand out from the crowd of not so brilliant teachers.
Who Am I? (And Why Should You Listen to Me?)
The teaching tips I am going to reveal is actually my first-hand classroom experience talking, which I gained spontaneously.
Indeed, I never went to a teachers’ training college, and I don’t possess a professional degree in teaching.
But that cannot undermine the fact that teaching is all about communication between hearts—the teachers’ and the students’.
It happened in March 2010.
My cousin had connections with a software training company based in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. And those guys were looking for a trainer to deliver personality development classes at Subharti University, Meerut.
I said, yes.
The teaching tips you’re about to read is the essence of what I learned during my teaching journey.
Teaching Tips to Make a Difference
#1. Realise that Teaching Is About “Students”
I have a little book that says teaching is about the students, not the teacher.
And believe me, it’s the best teaching advice I’ve ever come across.
Whenever you do anything, check if what you’re doing is for the students or your own gratification. Are you using a particular teaching method because you think it’s useful or because it’s really good?
Get into your students’ shoes so you could help them better.
See problems from their perspective. Understand their point of view. Empathise with them.
#2. Make Your Students Laugh
This one is pretty simple: make them laugh.
Use laughter as an icebreaker. It works like a charm.
And you know it from your own experience, don’t you? You know that when you laugh, you get more open to whatever you’re about to listen or watch, right?
The same thing applies to your teaching. The more open your students, the better their understanding of whatever you’re teaching them.
Laughter makes both the students and teacher comfortable, and eventually, teaching becomes fun, not a burden.
I used laughter to my advantage: I had a collection of jokes, one-liners, witty incidences, and Shayri. A lot of stuff. I was a funny and cool teacher, you know. 😎
The idea was to make the students comfortable before getting into teaching and learning mode.
And it worked. Every. Single. Time.
#3. Accept the Fact that Not All Students Want to Progress
It can be hard to accept that not every student wants to progress, especially when you’re doing everything goddamn thing under the sun.
The fact is, the majority of the students want to focus on studies, excel in academics and perform better.
But then, some students are just not interested in anything—studies, sports, personal development, nothing matters to them.
And it’s quite natural (as a sincere teacher) to blame yourself for this. But it’s not your fault. All you can do is not to let such students disturb the “interested” ones.
I had this concern from day one.
And so, in my introductory class…
This is what I said to my students:
“I am not a teacher or trainer; instead, consider me a friend. And, remember: this class is not about you or me, it’s about us. We’re a team, and we’ll achieve our goals together. Uninterested students are free to leave. No questions asked.”
(Yeah, I know it was inappropriate in the traditional sense, but then, think about it: If you let the uninterested students stay in the classroom, would they listen to you? They don’t care. And you can’t make somebody interested if they don’t care, can you?)
“Once the class is in session, I’d assume only the students interested in learning something are present. If you’re not interested in personal development, please leave because if you stayed, you would disturb others. And that’s the last thing I want. I respect your freedom to leave.”
“But sir, if you complained to the HOD, we’ll have to pay fine.”
“Don’t worry. I’m not going to complain.”
I devised a secret code: “I need to go drink water.” The moment a student spoke it, I knew he/she’s not going to come back.
I never forced anybody to stay present in the class because I knew that forcing somebody to do something against their will never works.
Not every student wants to progress, and that’s a fact.
#4. Listen with Patience, Teach with Authority
Listen to what your students have to say.
Empathise with them. And see things from their perspective.
Listen more, speak less.
And when you do speak, be authoritative. Don’t let any student set the tone of the class. That’s your job.
You’re the teacher—the authority present in the classroom.
Always remember that.
Even if it means to be extra firm in your approach.
#5. Begin the Class On Time
I used to wait until all the students were present (after the lunch break). And many students used to be 10, 15, and even 20 minutes late.
One day, while waiting for others to come, a student suggested, “Sir, don’t you think we must start the class on time? Why waste the time of the punctual students waiting for the latecomers?”
“Hmm, you’re right.”
I realised my mistake, and that day onward, I started classes at the scheduled time, even if only one student were present.
No student was allowed to enter the classroom after the scheduled time. That approach made non-punctual students changed their habits.
#6. Treat Every Student And Every Class With Integrity
One particular day, my first class was quite troublesome:
Students were making a lot of noise despite my best efforts, and that frustrated me.
When the students in the next class asked why I looked upset, I gave them a hint about how bad my previous batch had been.
Later, I realised I had breached my students’ trust. I shouldn’t have discussed a challenge I had with a class with another. But that was it.
From that day onward, I never discussed issues of one classroom with another or the problems of one student with another one.
Every class and every student is unique. And as a teacher, you must respect it.
Discussing issues you may be having with a particular class or a specific student in front of other classes or students is unethical. And not to mention, against the professional integrity of a teacher.
#7. Teach Your Students the “Crux”
I own a book titled “The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield.
I learned a lot from that book during my travel time and passed on the information to my students during the personality development classes.
The students used to raise questions, and I had to find the solutions. That also helped me—I went from being a problem seeker to a solution seeker within 15 days. It was a long-awaited transformation for me as an educator.
The point is, read and learn as much as you can about a particular subject and then pass on the essence to your students.
This strategy will help you expand your knowledge. And it’ll also make you an exceptional teacher in the long run.
#8. Go the Extra Mile to Help Your Students
One fine day, my class was in session.
I had cracked a joke, and the students were laughing hysterically—there was a lot of noise.
Suddenly a female teacher (one of the most strict teachers in the college) entered the classroom and ridiculed me, “Sir, what are you doing? These students are disturbing the entire floor. Why are they making so much noise?”
“What do you think of yourselves? If you don’t behave, I’ll complain to the principal, and all of you will have to pay a fine.” She warned the students.
“Sir, you need to work on your classroom behaviour management. Please make a list of the students who were making noise and give it to me if they don’t behave.”
“I surely would, ma’am,” I assured her.
She had a point.
And so, I decided to meet the training and placement officer the next day to find a solution to the “noise” issue.
I Requested to Conduct an Experiment
I suggested to the officer that we should allow the students to make noise for the first 10 minutes.
The students should be free to laugh, scream, or make any noise they wished. That way, most of their unexpressed energy shall be released, and they shall remain calm for the next 40 minutes. That way, we could teach them better.
My suggestion was “overruled” with the reasoning that it would disturb the adjoining classes.
I still don’t understand.
My idea was to let students make noise for the first couple of minutes so they could remain calm for the remaining time. That would have been more productive, instead of them making noise for the whole classroom time.
You decide what’s better—allowing the students to release their steam within the first 10 minutes, or letting them disturb the whole floor for a full 50 minutes?
You must be willing to go that extra mile for your students. I cannot guarantee that you’ll succeed, but you should try it. You might get lucky. Who knows?
#9. Don’t Lose Heart (Even When Things Go Wrong)
The teaching profession has its own hazards.
One of them is, despite your best efforts, things can go wrong.
Like they did for me.
Some students complained to the Dean that I wasn’t a good enough teacher.
They said that they weren’t satisfied with my teaching and needed a replacement.
The person from my employer company sharing the feedback was concerned. Because failing to address the issue would have meant losing the contract. And the college could have blacklisted the company forever.
I Assured I’ll Handle the Situation
I knew those students.
Despite my directive that no uninterested students will stay in the classroom, they never left. One of them always had his earphones on. I asked him to leave the very first day, but he said he will not disturb anybody, so I allowed him to stay.
Now, you see, there was a total of 250 students in 5 different classes, and I was leaving no stone unturned to help them.
So the news of a complaint to the dean of the college was disheartening for me.
But it affirmed my decision not to force the uninterested students to stay in the classroom. Now I just had to make things clearer to some students.
The next day I explained again, “I am not forcing anyone to sit in the classroom; anybody not wanting to learn is free to leave.” And the dust settled, once and for all.
Help interested students as much as you can.
And, be ready to handle the faultfinders.
Don’t lose heart.
#10. Start a Blog
My students were concerned about staying in touch once the classes got over.
I also wanted a platform where I could share new things with them. So, I started avdheshtondak.com.
You, too, can help your students with a blog. (This detailed post by Jon Morrow on how to start a blog will help you).
A blog can help you stay connected with your students because they’d have useful advice ready for them whenever they need it.
You’ll be required to express your ideas with clarity, which in turn will help you sharpen your teaching skills. It’s a win-win situation for both the students and you.
And now, get ready to earn your students’ respect.
Teaching Tips to Earn Students’ Respect
#11. Dump “Old-School”
Students don’t respect you?
Here’s the best teaching tip:
Take action. Punish them. Show them who’s the boss. Right?
Well, this old school teaching approach used to work, but not anymore.
Today’s students look up to you as a friend, not as an “I’ll-chop-your-head-off-if-you-don’t-follow-my-orders” type dictator. So, firm yet friendly is the mantra for the new teacher. Let it sink deep, and you’ll be on your way to get the respect you deserve from your students.
#12. Eliminate Negative Talk
“These kids are too difficult to handle.”
“They don’t listen to me.”
“I don’t know what’s wrong with these guys. They are arrogant and disobedient. Respect for the teachers? Forget it.”
It’s OK if you do get hopeless at times. It’s natural. Just remember to keep the “negative talk” to a minimum or better, eliminate it, from this very moment.
Now, being a teacher does not entitle you to your students’ respect. You need to earn it.
#13. Show Some Respect
To the teacher.
“Whoa, hang on! I think I didn’t make myself clear. It’s not about me; it’s about my students.”
I know, but the world respects those who respect themselves, remember? So, ask yourself:
“Do I respect myself as a teacher? Why not?”
#14. Give Respect to Get Respect
“What? I am the teacher here, and you are asking me to respect them?”
Why not? You get what you give, isn’t it?
Tell me, will you admire somebody who says to you:
- “You’re a duffer.”
- “Stop being an idiot.”
- “Why are you wasting your father’s money?”
- “Can you do anything right, for once?”
- “I think you should start thinking about something else.” And blah, blah, blah…
Well, forgive me for being rude, but I won’t even look at the person, let alone respect him.
Did that hurt?
Well, it was meant to. Not to insult you, of course. But to let you see things from a different perspective.
The formula is simple: If you want respect, start giving it.
#15. Give Your Students This
“Give them what?”
“Are you serious? Is this some kind of religiosity crap?”
No, it’s not.
You see, hope makes people search for something better.
Aren’t you reading this article hoping to get your students’ respect? Just like hope motivated you to look for a solution to your challenge, it can motivate your students as well.
Tell them that you know:
The market place is competitive, and getting a job is difficult. Politicians and big corporations are ruining ordinary people’s lives. Life is hard, and the world is full of shit…but there’s still hope and always will be.
Get into your students’ shoes and think: which teacher will you respect?
One who makes you hopeless?
The one who inspires hope in you, despite the negativity around?
You know the answer.
#16. Learn. A Lot
“Learning? Me? Don’t you think it’s counterintuitive, shouldn’t the students be doing all the learning?”
Well, this article is about you: the teacher, not the students, remember?
We’re living in The Information Age—internet, eBooks, blogs, websites, wikis, books, manuals, journals, magazines—it’s enormous. But there’s a little problem, you see. Finding specific and useful information is hard. That’s where you (the teacher) come in. The more you learn, the more you can share with your students.
So cut the crap and give them the “essential.”
#17. Be Honest
No matter what, honesty is still the best policy (at least when it comes to dealing with your students).
Don’t project yourself as a superhero, one who never fails. Tell them about the setbacks you’ve had and how you overcame them. It’ll make the students relate to you on a deeper level.
Also, help them realise both their strengths and weaknesses. There will be times when you must strike them (not physically, of course) to point them in the right direction.
Do what’s right for them, not what looks right to them.
It’s okay to pamper them once in a while, but don’t overdo it. Remember to keep your students disciplined.
Sure, they might hate you for it, but sooner or later they’ll realise that whatever you did was for their highest good.
#18. Don’t Let Your Students Depend On You
It’s a no brainer that your students want you to be on their side at all times. And it’s natural because that way they feel secure; if something goes wrong, they can always put the responsibility on your shoulders.
There’s a catch, though.
Go overboard, and it’d affect their decision-making ability. And their sense of self-dependence.
Help them in academics and co-curricular activities but make it clear that you’re like the gardener who waters the plants and takes good care of them, but when the storm comes, the plants need to face the wind on their own.
The Teaching Tip to Stand Out from the Crowd of Regular Teachers
Love—it’s the best teaching tip I could offer you.
Love makes one stand out.
It differentiates a good teacher from the “regular” ones.
Love is the best teacher. When nothing else works, love does.Love is the best teacher. When nothing else works, love does.Click To Tweet
When things go south, don’t search for more “teaching tips,” or seek “better” teaching advice. Instead, be more loving towards your students, and yourself.
Speak from your heart, teach from your heart, guide from your heart—and everything shall fall into place.
And now, one last thing before I close for today:
Nothing’s more blissful than a student hugging you with profound love and respect—whom you just ran into—at a place neither of you was expecting.
(I am having goosebumps while writing this, and also tears in my eyes).
Thank you for reading what I had to share. You’ve been awesome.