Tips for Teaching: How to Become A Teacher Students Admire?

“Teaching tips” is what you’re looking for, right?

And I can understand why.

First of all, it’s obvious that you are a teacher because only a teacher would search for something like “teaching tips.” And secondly, you’re not a regular teacher.

Now, what do I mean by “regular?”

Well, regular teachers do what they’re supposed to do:

Reading aloud in the classroom.

Scribbling on the blackboard.

And sometimes, cursing the students for not completing the homework.

The usual stuff, you know.

They know their job is “teaching,” and they’re good at it. However, they don’t really care about the students’ future—whether it darkens like a no-moon night or shines like a warm sunny afternoon.

But I know you are not one of them.

For you, teaching is not a means to an end. It’s not something casual, something to earn your livelihood from. Instead, you see teaching as a rare opportunity to guide your students and give them a direction they could’ve never imagined without you. And so, you work really hard to make that possible.

You read as many teaching strategies and techniques as you could. You consult your fellow teachers to upgrade and refine your teaching. And you also put effort into late-night study sessions to understand your subjects better.

In other words, you do whatever you can.

And, you do succeed. But still, you feel something’s missing.

Maybe you don’t feel satisfied with your “good teaching.”

Maybe you have a burning desire to do something extraordinary with your teaching.

Or maybe you have a dream to become a teacher students admire.

Well, I have some good news for you:

You can become one if you can master the following three areas:

  1. Make a difference in your students’ lives
  2. Earn students’ respect, and
  3. Stand out from the crowd of regular teachers

Oh, did I mention I could help you with all three?

Now, I know what you’re thinking:

“Who IS this guy? Why should I listen to him?”

My Teaching Advice (And Why You Should Listen to Me)

Here’s the thing:

The teaching methods and approaches I will reveal in this article are my first-hand classroom experience talking.

Indeed, I never went to a teachers’ training college, and I don’t have a professional teaching degree. But it cannot undermine the fact that teaching is basically about communication— between the teacher’s heart and the students’.

And here’s how it all started:

It was March 2010.

My cousin had connections with a software training institute based in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. They were looking for a personality development trainer to deliver classes at Subharti University, Meerut to B.Tech. 2nd-year students.

My cousin asked me if I’d be interested.

And I said yes.

So, the teaching tips you will read here are the essence of my teaching journey.

Let’s dive right in!

Tips for Teaching: Avdhesh Tondak with Roorkee Institute of Technology students

Teaching Tips to Make a Difference

Realize That Teaching Has Nothing to Do With the Teacher

I know it’s difficult to understand, but it’s the best advice out there for making a difference in teaching.

You see, “teaching” is not about you. It has never been. In fact, it has very little to do with the teacher and everything to do with the students.

Let me explain.

Whenever you do anything in the classroom, check if you’re doing it for the students or your own gratification. Why are you keen to use a particular teaching method? Is it because you think it’s useful or because it’s truly effective?

Gotcha! 🙂

So, get into your student’s shoes, and…

See problems from their perspective.

Understand their point of view.

Empathize with them.

It’s so important that I would like to repeat it: Teaching is not about the teacher. It’s about the students.

Become a Stand-up Comedian (If You Had to)

A stand-up comedian?

Ha, this one doesn’t even qualify for a teaching tip, but it’s still on the list. And for a good reason:

Because it works!

Laughter is the perfect icebreaker. It opens up people’s minds and brings them into a more receptive mode.

And you know that because you’ve experienced it, right?

When you’re in a good mood, you’re more open to whatever you’re doing. It’s the same about your students—the more open they are, the better their understanding.

Laughter unburdens. It refreshes. It makes teaching fun.

In fact, using laughter to my advantage was my topmost priority. I had a collection of jokes, one-liners, witty incidences, and Shayri. A lot of stuff.

I know it was unconventional, but it worked. You see, the whole idea was to make the students as comfortable as possible so they could learn more easily.

Try it.

Accept The Fact That You Can’t Change the World

I know it’s hard.

It’s almost impossible to accept that some students don’t want to progress, and it pains more when you’re doing everything you can, right?

Relax!

You know, the fact is:

The majority of the students want to focus on their studies. But, some students are not interested in anything whatsoever: studies, sports, personal development, nothing matters to them.

That’s alright.

You cannot change the world, anyway. So, accept the reality.

I know a sincere teacher like you will feel guilty about it, but there’s no need, really. It’s not your fault. And though you can’t do much about it, you still have the power (and responsibility) to make sure such students don’t disturb the “interested” ones.

This is what I did in my introductory class to avoid any such situation:

I Made Things Clear

“I am your friend and not a teacher or a trainer. Also, this personality development program is neither about you nor me. It’s about us. We’re a team, and we’ll achieve our goals together. So if you’re not interested, please leave. No questions asked.”

Was it inappropriate on my part?

Maybe it was, in the traditional sense. But, after all, a teacher’s job is to make students learn, even with force, right?

But think about it. If I let the uninterested students stay in the classroom, would they have listened to me?

No, because they didn’t care.

And you can’t make somebody care if they don’t want to because that would create more and more tension.

I continued.

“Once the class is in session, I’d assume you’re here because you wanted to. If personal development doesn’t interest you, please leave. I don’t want you to disturb others.”

“But sir, if you complained to the HOD, we’ll have to pay a fine,” one of them reasoned.

“Don’t worry. I’m not going to complain.”

I devised a secret code to make things easier for them, and the code was,  “I need to go drink water.”

The moment a student spoke it, I knew they were not going to come back.

You see, I never forced any student to attend my classes because forcing never works.

So, instead of spending time and effort on the students who are not interested in learning, focus on those who are.

Listen With “This,” Teach With “That”

Listening is a great skill for a teacher.

It helps you:

empathize with students,

see things from their perspective, and

make informed decisions.

So, speak less, listen more.

And when you do, be authoritative. Don’t let any student set the tone of the class because only the teacher is authorized for that. In other words, you. You’re the teacher—the authority present in the classroom.

So, listen with compassion, and teach with authority.

Don’t Care for The Students (Not All of Them)

For the first few days:

After recess, I waited until all the students came back. And to my surprise, many of them used to be 10, 15, and even 20 minutes late.

One day, some students came back while I was waiting for others to arrive, and a student spoke:

“Sir, don’t you think we must start the class on time? I mean, why waste the time of the punctual ones for the latecomers?”

He was right.

I realized my mistake, and from that day onward, I started classes at the scheduled time, even with only one student. In fact, no student was allowed to enter the classroom post the scheduled time.

It worked.

Most of them turned punctual.

Remember: What Happens in Vegas Must Stay in Vegas

It happened:

One particular day, my first batch was quite troublesome.

Despite my best efforts, the class was quite noisy, and that frustrated me.

When the next batch inquired why I looked upset, I gave a hint. But, later, I realized I had breached my students’ trust by discussing a challenge I had with a class with the students of another class.

But that was the first and the last time.

Never again did I discuss the issues or one class with another. And it’s important.

Discussing issues of a particular class or student with another class or group of students is unethical. And also against a teacher’s professional integrity. Accept that every class and student is unique, and as a teacher, you should respect that.

Cut The “Flab” from Your Teaching

There are two ways of teaching:

  1. Ask your students to learn what you want them to learn
  2. Learn a major portion of it yourself, and share the important points

I chose the second one.

Since my subject was personal development and self-improvement, I decided to upgrade my knowledge of inspiration, success, and personal growth. And for that, I studied “The Success Principles by Jack Canfield.”

It’s a wonderful book, and I learned many powerful things from it during my metro travel time. Then, later on, in the classroom, I passed on the information to my students. And then, it became a daily affair—they were supposed to raise questions, and I had to find the solutions.

It’s clear that my approach was helping my students and was also working well for me. Within 15 days, I transformed from a problem seeker to a “solution-oriented teacher.” It was a long-awaited personal transformation for me.

My point?

Learn as much as possible about a particular topic and then pass on the “essence” to your students.

In other words, cut the crap!

Go the Extra Mile to Help Your Students

One day:

My class was in session.

I cracked a joke, and the students laughed hysterically—there was a lot of noise.

And then something unexpected happened.

A female teacher (notorious for being the strictest) entered the classroom.

“Sir, what are you doing? Your class is disturbing the entire floor. Why are they making so much noise?”

“Behave! Otherwise, I’ll complain to the principal, and you all will have to pay a hefty fine.” She was furious.

“Sir, you need to work on your classroom behavior management. Please make a list of the troublemakers, and hand it over to me if they don’t behave.”

“I surely would, ma’am,” I assured her.

She had a point.

And so, I met the TPO (training and placement officer) the next day to find a solution.

I suggested letting the students be free to make noise for the first 10 minutes—as much noise as possible.

“Sir, the students should be allowed to laugh, scream, or shout if they want because that’ll release their unexpressed energy. And then, they will remain calm for the next 40 minutes, ready to learn,” I proposed.

I Was Overruled

“Doing so would disturb the adjoining classes. Sorry! Can’t permit that.” the TPO replied.

I didn’t get it.

And still don’t.

You see, the idea was to let students make noise for the first couple of minutes to remain calm for the rest of the session. Don’t you think that would’ve been more productive instead of them making noise the whole time? So what is better—allowing the students to release the steam for the first 10 minutes? Or letting them disturb the whole floor for a full 50 minutes?

The point?

Be willing to go that extra mile for your students. Of course, there’s no guarantee of success, but you should at least try it.

You might get lucky, who knows?

Drink Your Tears (Even If They Taste Disgusting)

Every profession has its hazards.

And teaching is no exception.

Want to know a professional hazard of the “noble” teaching profession?

Despite your best efforts, things can go wrong, as they did for me:

Some students complained to the Dean that I wasn’t a good enough teacher, and they were dissatisfied with my teaching.

They demanded a replacement.

Bad news!

My employer was concerned, and for a good reason: failing to address the issue would have meant losing the contract. And not only that, the college could have blacklisted our company from future projects.

“Don’t worry, sir. Let me handle this.” I was confident.

I Knew Who Those Students Were

The “uninterested ones.”

And why did they complain? It was because of a lack of clarity on my part.

Despite my repeating that only interested students are allowed in the classroom, they never left. In fact, one of them always had his earphones on. I noticed it the first day and asked him to leave, but he assured me that he would not disturb anybody, so I let him stay.

Can I share a secret with you?

I felt pretty low at that time. Because it was heartbreaking. I mean, there were 250 students in 5 different batches, and I was leaving no stone unturned to help them. And still, such atrocious complaints? 🙁  But it only affirmed my decision not to force students to attend the class. I knew what I had to do, and I did it the very next day:

“I am not forcing anyone to stay in the class. If you don’t want to stay, please leave.” I repeated once again.

And the dust settled, once and for all.

The lesson here?

Help interested students as much as you can. And be ready to handle the faultfinders.

Don’t Burn The Bridges

Nothing can replace live classroom teaching.

No doubt about it.

But sometimes, meeting your students face to face is not feasible. And it’s no excuse to stay in touch with them online.

I knew my classes would last for only 40 days, and after that, I wouldn’t be able to talk to my students in person. And I was desperate to do something about that. It was then that I realized a blog would come in handy to stay in touch with my students.

So, I launched avdheshtondak.com.

You, too, can help your students by starting a blog. (This detailed post by Jon Morrow on how to start a blog can help you.)

A blog is a convenient way to stay connected with your students. And it shall help you too because writing for a blog requires you to express your thoughts clearly, which can help you sharpen your teaching skills. So it’s a win-win situation for both the students and you.

Consider starting one.

So, these were the teaching tips that you could use to make a difference in your students’ lives.

Now come the tips that will help you earn your students’ respect.

Here we go.

Teaching Tips to Earn Students’ Respect

Acknowledge That Old School is Just That—”Old.”

Your students don’t respect you?

Take action. Punish them. Show them who’s the boss, right?

The old-school teaching approaches 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.

And that means that “firm-yet-friendly” is the mantra for the new teacher.

Let it sink deep, and you’ll be on your way to getting the respect from your students you so rightly deserve.

Understand that You Get What You Give

Want to earn respect from your students?

Then give respect to the teacher—to yourself.

“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? If not, why not?”

Life Is a Boomerang. Know How to Handle It

You showed respect to the teacher.

Now, how about giving some to the students?

“What? I am the teacher here, and you are asking me to respect them?”

Why not? You get what you give (I just told you, didn’t I?)

Ask yourself, will you admire somebody who constantly nags you, with this:

  • “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.

Give Your Students This

“Give them what?”

Hope.

“Are you serious? I thought you were sharing some practical teaching tips, but it looks like some sort of religiosity crap. Is it so?”

No, it’s not anything like that.

You see, hope makes people search for something better.

Aren’t you reading this article hoping to get your students’ respect? But, just like hope inspired you to look for a solution to your challenge, it can also motivate your students.

Tell them that you know…

The marketplace 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 also tell them that 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?

Or

The one who inspires hope in you?

An Honest Teaching Advice: Do What An Honest Person Would Do

No matter what, honesty is still the best policy (at least when dealing with your students).

So, don’t project yourself as somebody who never fails.

Explain to your students the setbacks you had to face in your student life and how you overcame them. Showing your vulnerable side will make the students relate to you on a deeper level.

Also, as a teacher, it’s your job to realize their weaknesses and the areas they need to work on. And don’t keep it to yourself. Instead, communicate the truth to your students.

It’s alright if they hate you for showing them the mirror because sooner or later, they’ll realize that whatever you did was for their highest good.

Realize You’re Not Going to Be There Forever

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 self-dependence.

So, do 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

Now, one of the best teaching tips I could offer you is:

Love your students.

Yes, that’s right.

Love makes one stand out.

It differentiates a good teacher from a “regular” one.

Love is the best teacher. When nothing else works, love does.

So, 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 them 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 teary eyes.)

Thank you for reading what I had to share.

You’ve been fantastic!

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