As we begin another bright and shiny school year, I have been reflecting on the different skills and attributes of outstanding teachers. I know I always strive to be a better educator each year… Maybe you are that kind of teacher, too! Here are five teacher strategies that work for me. I hope they might resonate with you:
1. Be able to learn from others, including your students.
New initiatives can be overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to learn as you teach. Are you putting students first? Or are you doing things the same old way because that’s more comfortable? Check in with your teacher mindset. Do you put student needs at the top of your list?
2. Be a lifelong learner.
Unfortunately, some teachers have truly forgotten what it is like to be a student, to learn something new. How can educators develop and deliver instruction effectively if they forgot what it is like to learn? Learning can be easy or hard for your students, family members and your colleagues. Learning differences do exist across all age levels, and needs recognition.
3. Let students own their learning.
Are you providing opportunities for student voice and choice? Learners need to find their own passion and voice through their work. By giving students voice and choice, teachers can learn from them, learn more about them and develop deeper student/teacher connections. When co-teaching with fifth grade teachers, we gave the students choices on how they could share their learning about the phases of the moon. When students have choice, student engagement increases!
4. Integrate! There isn’t enough time to teach everything separately.
Some educators believe that arts or technology integration means they have to learn to teach more “things.” Often, teachers are afraid to use art or technology for fear that their students will know more than they do, which may be true. Heck, when I changed my art room to a choice-based art studio, my elementary students taught me! (And they taught me a lot!) With technology integration, I have found that many students know how to use the devices, but they do not know how to use them for learning. Teachers need to feel empowered so that they can provide spaces for students to create within the arts and technology in deeper ways that are not possible without it.
5. Smile, reflect and self-assess.
Learning takes time, whether you are a child or an adult. Take time to smile, reflect and self-assess. Are you making progress? More importantly, are your students making progress? Learning, and change, takes time. Reflect on teaching and learning and change things based on your needs and the needs of your students.
Have a great year!
How will you try to grow and improve with your students this year? What are your favorite teacher strategies?
Let me know in the comments below.
Amy Traggianese is an elementary visual arts educator and has been an art essentialist at a Connecticut Higher Order Thinking (HOT) School since 2001. A former kindergarten and first grade teacher, she has 30 years of arts integration experience. Amy specializes in integrating language arts, math, science and technology into the art curriculum. She presents at local and national conferences. Amy is an active educator voice on Facebook and Twitter, loves a good Twitter chat, and connects with other educators through social media.