Earning an undergraduate degree may be the first step toward becoming a teacher, but there are other things that educators can do, such as maintaining a commitment to professional growth, if they want to excel in that role. Teachers who continue to grow professionally never stop learning. Effective teachers respond to social change, student interests, and developments in pedagogy.
Teachers can improve their craft in several ways. In addition to developing expertise and experience through on-the-job training, they can benefit from further education at the graduate level. Whether seasoned or relatively new to the field, those who want to know how to become a better teacher can pursue a graduate degree in teaching to further enhance their professional skills, as well as find more fulfillment in their careers.
Four Tips on How to Be a Better Teacher
Being able to connect with students authentically is just one of the skills teachers need to be effective. Learning to receive feedback, avoiding bias, engaging in self-reflection, and teaching students in an online forum can also help with professional growth.
1. Listening to Feedback
Teachers can receive feedback in a number of ways, including students’ end-of-year or end-of-semester evaluations, management assessments, and self-reflection. Information relayed by students can be especially important. When used correctly, feedback can help teachers become more adept.
For example, some educators may choose to cover complex subject matter lightly in the classroom and assign additional coursework for students to complete on their own. However, if their students indicate through class evaluations that they would benefit from additional classroom instruction, the teacher may need to modify lesson plans to accommodate learning and improve student outcomes.
2. Avoiding Bias
Bias in education can take a negative toll on students. It is most insidious when it takes the form of unconscious, or implicit, bias—the associations and assumptions, positive or negative, that teachers may make about certain student groups based on their age, gender, race, and other factors.
Unconscious bias can cause harm. It can impact how teachers respond to and assess the work of certain students; it can even lead teachers to assume certain populations of students are more academically inclined than others.
Because awareness of potential bias is so important, an educator interested in learning more about how to become a better teacher might consider enrolling in professional development programs that highlight this complex issue.
3. Engaging in Self-Reflection
The surge in online learning has had a profound effect on teaching practice. This development and others are opportunities for teachers to periodically step back and reevaluate their teaching methods, styles, and strategies to continue to effectively connect with students. Self-reflection in response to changing social circumstances can also allow teachers to take steps to strengthen their teaching practice.
Ways for teachers to engage in fruitful self-reflection, according to Teach Away, include thinking critically about one’s own teaching process, noting what did and did not go well, and questioning whether any unconscious biases may have influenced recent teaching choices. Teachers can then apply their insights in the classroom with the aim of becoming more aware of students’ needs.
4. Becoming a More Effective Online Teacher
Teachers need to understand how to optimize hybrid and online learning environments and technology in a way that encourages collaboration while promoting internet safety. Mastering chat tools, video calls, hyperlinked lesson plans, and bulletin boards, and maintaining a virtual open-door policy for online students can help turn the digital classroom from a potentially cold and isolated environment into one that’s warm, engaging, and community building.
Becoming a Better Teacher Starts With an Advanced Degree
Professionals hoping to learn more about how to become a better teacher should know that completion of an advanced degree at American University can help them toward that goal. Under the guidance of American University’s award-winning faculty, teachers will learn how to empower students and make a lasting, positive impact in their lives. Discover more about the Online Master of Arts in Teaching at American University today.
Edutopia, “5 Keys to Success in Hybrid Learning”
Edutopia, “4 Ways to Fight Bias in Grading”
HMH, “11 Education Trends to Watch in 2022”
Indeed, “8 Qualities of a Good Teacher (and Tips for How To Develop Them)”
Pew Research Center, “How Teens Navigate School During COVID-19”
TeachThought, “Successful Teachers Do Things Differently”