Being An Impactful Teacher

Being An Impactful Teacher Joseph Purpura.png

One of the best things about being an educator is making a difference in my students’ lives. Every educator goes into the field for some reason, but most of us just want to make a difference. Whether you’re a preschool teacher or a college professor, these are a few ways teachers can make a difference in their students’ education and lives.

Tutoring

Telling students to see a tutor is not successful in many cases. Their parents may not be able to afford a private tutor, and free tutoring services are not available everywhere. Rather than relying on someone else to tutor your students, offer to tutor the students who really need it. You can speak with the principal and see if there can be an after-school tutoring session where kids who need a little extra help can get it. You may also want to enlist your peers to help, especially if you are teaching the same subjects. Small group sessions can allow for more one-on-one time, as well as a more inclusive environment, helping students feel comfortable and open to learning.

Emotional Support

Particularly for teens and young adults, having authority figures who understand their emotions is crucial for success in school. If you notice a student is struggling when they normally excel, or if you witness troubling behavior, reach out to the student and see if there is anything you can do. Make sure to report any interaction to your supervisor, as a situation may escalate beyond your control, and having a record will help moving forward. If you think the student will not open up to you, refer them to a counselor and, if possible, offer to introduce them. Students will not be able to learn unless they feel safe and secure, and that includes emotionally.

Abuse Signs

It’s an unfortunately part of the job, but many teachers all over the country come in contact with signs of abuse at some point. While physical signs are often easy to detect, keep an eye out for unusual behavior from your students. For elementary and middle school teachers, watch for detached children. Likewise, overly-attached children should be watched carefully. Teens in high school may be abused at home or in a relationship, and college-aged students are more likely to be involved in domestic abuse as well. If you notice something, you must say something (it’s the law), but make sure to stay alert to behavior that could tip you off to abuse. Helping someone get out of an abusive situation is one of the best things you can do for them.

Being a teacher is more than spouting off facts to a class. Being a teacher means looking out for the best interests of your students, and that often means going above and beyond your daily duties. Rather than being a teacher who only teacher, be a teacher who makes a difference in your students’ lives.

From JosephPurpura.org

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A Teacher’s Plan For Struggling Students

A Teacher's Plan For Struggling Students Joseph Purpura.png

As an educator, it is unfortunate that not every child receives a high standard of education. Upon leaving high school, students around the country are a mixed bag, and professors are often the ones in charge of finding a solution. Although we cannot get through to every student that passes through our doors, we can try. These are the steps I suggest every educator take to give their students the best chance at succeeding in a failing system.

Respect

Many students did not achieve to their greatest potential in high school, because they did not feel respected. Often, a lack of respect comes from family or peers, but it can also come from teachers themselves. If you give respect to all of your students, no matter their situation, you will get through, even to a small extent. Keep in mind that giving respect does not mean giving everyone an A, but rather, it’s speaking to someone as though they are your peer, not your inferior.

Identify

Once your students open up, either through discussion or assignments, you should easily identify where each student struggles. Some weak points may be more pronounced than others, but I suggest taking some notes, so you have an idea of what should be covered. Tracking trends in students over time can also identify potential disabilities that could prevent a student from succeeding.

Connect

It is unfortunate that some students, when offered help, will not accept it. Still, many students are open to help, but are apprehensive to ask for it. Provide a private, non-confrontational way for students to reach out for help. Doing so will allow students to feel safe and comfortable, rather than weak or stupid. You also can reach out to students if you have a good rapport with them, and they may appreciate the sentiment.

Plan

Once you have a student who is ready for help, come up with a plan to tackle the issues you identified. Ask for their point of view and see what part of the process was difficult for them. Then, come up with some exercises, or an alternate explanation of the material. You could suggest pairing them up with a student who excels, but many will not take to this. It does not matter what you do, as long as your student is able to improve.

While professors teaching remedial or general education courses can most utilize this strategy to undo prior improper education, any professor can follow these steps to help tutor a student in new material. It is important to remember that you will not get through to everyone, but helping even one student makes a difference in the future. As an educator, this is what I strive to do, and I believe most educators want the same.

From JosephPurpura.org

Differences Between Teaching Adults, Teens, and Children

Differences Between Teaching Adults, Teens, and Children Joseph Purpura.png

Teaching is a difficult profession that requires patience and adaptability. Each class presents their own quirks and challenges, but these often vary by age. Any new teacher must decide which age range they prefer teaching, and this can be difficult without experience. Today, I will reflect on the differences between teaching adults, teens, and children so you are able to make an informed decision before pursuing higher education.

Children

Let’s begin with the youngest of our groups. Children in school are typically between the ages of 4-12. There is significant development during this time, and encounters with unprofessional teachers can leave an impact on them when venturing into middle school and beyond. Teaching elementary-aged students requires an incomprehensible amount of patience, for numerous reasons. The first is the lack of maturity. Children often pick up habits from their caretakers, and repeat them without considering the consequences. If you teach a child whose parent bullies them, you may see a bully in the classroom. A spoiled child may expect the same behavior from you. We cannot control how parents raise their children, so teachers of this age must expect the absolute worst, and realize that getting through to these kids may be more difficult than they anticipated. The second reason is a concentration of energy; when have you ever seen a group of kids that could all sit still? The third is the severity of consequences placed on teachers who discipline their class. Teachers may find more success reforming children’s behavior, rather than punishing them for it.

Teens

Teens, on the other hand, require patience for other reasons. Teens can act unusual, as they are discovering their identity and must try to find what works. You may also encounter more intense behavioral problems, clique formation, and a lack of respect for authority. However, teens also have a better ability to reason, so there is a good chance you can talk through problems with your students, rather than resorting to time-outs or other punishments.

Adults

Where you see a huge departure is with adults. Unless you are teaching a general education requirement, most of the students in your classes will be there because they enjoy the subject. You have a great opportunity here — you can either make the class engaging, or you can make it boring. Your students will react appropriately. While you don’t have to pretend to be their age, it can also help to relate to them in some way. The biggest problem when teaching adults is the lack of motivation. Without strict boundaries, like those in high school, students can care more about their social life than their classes. However, there will always be a few good students each semester who make the position worthwhile.

Children, teens, and adults are significantly different in terms of maturity and habits, so it is no wonder that teaching them varies just as much. While each offers many positives, there are also negatives to keep in mind. No matter what you decide, be sure to thoroughly think about what every day may look like for you, and whether you have decided to teach the right age group.

From JosephPurpura.org