This article is designed to share the experiences, insights, and strategies utilized by experienced teachers in making their classrooms more effective learning environments. These teachers believe that through the use of these teaching methodologies they have had a positive effect on how their students have learned. For already experienced teachers the ideas expressed within read like a checklist of commonly accepted practices. For such educators this article discusses how they can once again effectively utilize these strategies as they work to implement their teaching goals. To new teachers this article offers sound tips to help them along the path to becoming a good teacher. As a result of exploring such ideas this article provides an excellent foundation for implementing sound teaching strategies that will help students achieve their academic goals.
Today, more than ever, the classroom teacher is seen as the primary facilitator for student success. Therefore, educators must possess an ever widening array of skills and talents. In addition to needing the expertise of bureaucrats, accountants, and even counselors, they are also called upon to be knowledgeable, understanding, compassionate, fair, and dedicated educators ultimately accountable for student achievement. As if all of this were not enough, in an ever changing and seemingly apathetic society these everyday individuals are also asked to serve as academic and moral role models. Society often judges them, their students, and the entire educational system itself by how well teachers meet these needs.
How can the front line classroom teacher best balance these many demands? Some scholars see the answer in increased teacher training. Others believe the answer lies in more funding. Still others argue for smaller class sizes and more technology. In the final analysis, all are probably correct. Smaller, well equipped classrooms headed by well trained professionals do provide an environment conducive to learning. In the best of all worlds each self contained classroom would have all such advantages, and every student an equal opportunity to succeed. However, in the real world of education, in the day to day reality that spans one hundred and eighty plus days of a school year, this is not often the case. What then do teachers do until education reaches this panacea?
The answer is they cope and they make do with what they have. They learn through their experiences, their successes, and especially their failures. They utilize skills and techniques they are able to develop over the years. Most of all, they continue to broaden their repertory of useable ideas that will make them better at what they do. One very effective way to increase their knowledge is by sharing in the experiences and ideas of other successful teachers. These fellow educators can indeed be an invaluable source of expertise and inspiration.
This article is designed to share such experiences, insights, and strategies in the hope that they may be of some use to the many classroom teachers who believe that what they do does make a difference in the lives of those children they share their classrooms with each day.
Tip Number One: Know Your Students' Names
As simple as this may seem, the first real step to creating an effective learning environment is the mastering of students' names. All individuals are unique to some degree and their names house this uniqueness. All creatures, whether they are the family pet, the person next door, or that bright and energetic ten year old sitting in class, respond to the use of their names. "Hey you, in the back," does not elicit the same positive response as "Mary, please pass out these papers for me." When a teacher can address every student by name, that teacher conveys a positive and powerful message to the student. It says that I am interested enough and care enough about you to learn more about you, starting with your name. …