I remember how confusing everything seemed when I first started and how scared I was. However, looking back from where I am now, I can’t actually see what all of the fuss was about, although I imagine that this comes from experience. I don’t recall following any structure in order to progress from a newly qualified teacher into an experienced one, it was definitely an ‘in at the deep-end’ experience.
So my best advice for any new, or novice teachers is to tell them not to be afraid to get stuck in. Confidence will be your biggest asset in the classroom, if you look and sound confident and deliver your lessons in a confident manner then your students will respond to you. I have seen too many novice teachers labouring over hours and hours of planning and scheduling before nervously entering the classroom with the inevitable result. I am not saying that you don’t need to do any planning whatsoever, just take a close look at how much time you are spending and perhaps re-prioritise your time into more valuable areas. If you are spending more than 20% of your time planning, rather than actually teaching then you need to take a step back and ask yourself why?
One of the methods I use, which will help to hold your students interest, as well as boost your own confidence levels, is to make sure that your lessons are interesting for you and your students. It might take a bit of imagination, but there are always ways to make even the dullest subjects more interesting, add some fun and humour, do something interactive, enjoyable and memorable. Remember, if you are enjoying yourself, your students will as well, plus learning is more effective when it is fun!
Don’t let failure knock your confidence
Not everything goes according to plan, a fact that we all have to live with. In the classroom you will inevitably come across a lesson you are teaching that just doesn’t work, you may have delivered the lesson dozens of times before without any problems, or it may be your first time. Sometimes things just go wrong!
I rarely sit back and analyse the good lessons I teach, when things go well I just get on with it and then move onto the next task at hand. In order to try to understand why some lessons can be so disappointing, I think it is important to also look back at your good lessons. Ask yourself how you prepared and delivered the lesson, did you introduce the lesson properly, were the students interested and engaged with the subject and did the lesson fit correctly within the subject?
I also try to ask myself why I chose a particular lesson, was I just filling time because I couldn’t think of anything else to do, or did I just come to the conclusion that it will do without any real thought? After asking yourself these questions, you will have a set of results to compare each time you give a lesson with good or bad results.
So don’t let those little incidents along the way knock your confidence, try to see every class you teach as a fresh start and be confident.