100 Teacher Tips #35-37 | Dress Professional | Feedback | Teaching Opportunities

Tip 35: Dress Professional

As a teacher, you should dress appropriately and respect your career. Students will learn to respect you too. I remember that in my first year of teaching there was a teacher that wore a black, formal ladies’ slack suit when she went into the class for the first week. I asked her why and she said there have been some studies that if you wear a darker color; it shows that you are an authority and students take you more seriously.

Since then, I also walk into my class in a black suit at the start of the semester. Students look to you as a role model, so it’s up to you to dress professionally because it shows that you are taking them seriously. If you are taking your job seriously, you should also conduct yourself as a professional, because you are a role model for the students.

I hate it when I see a teacher looking sloppy because even though I might be wrong, the idea that you get from them is that if they are sloppy in their appearance and they’re sloppy in the way that they present themselves, then their work may be sloppy too.

Remember, teachers are (supposed to be) professionals and I think it is each one of us. It’s our responsibility to promote that idea to the rest of the world. I know that many professors tend to look down on teachers, so it’s our responsibility to show the world that we are professionals and that we take teaching seriously.

It may have a big impact on your class. Imagine going to your classroom with a nice suit on and you start teaching. The students look up to you and they think, “This teacher is really a professional and I will respect him.” Now let’s think of a situation where you go to class and you’re sloppy and you don’t conduct yourself professionally. What will the students think of you? And what will the rest of the world think of you?

I’ve had this conversation with many other teachers before and I know that many disagree with me, but if we’re professionals, start acting like it. You won’t trust a doctor that looks sloppy. You won’t trust a lawyer that goes into court not wearing a suit, so why would you trust the teacher that doesn’t present themselves as professional?

As teachers, we are constantly in public view all the time. I’m not saying you have to wear a suit all the time, but you should look professional. If you’re coaching sports, that’s fine, but just look professional while you’re doing it. Wear the right clothes when you interact with other people. Act professionally, especially to other teachers and parents of students. Because our image gives them an idea of who we are as a person and what we can do as the teacher.

35.1 What is a professional code of ethics for teachers?

National education departments all have some code of ethics describing the professional duties of their teachers. Such a code prescribes how teachers have to act towards learners, parents, the community, colleagues, and the department as the employer.

A good example of such a code is that of the South African Council for Educators. Unfortunately, the SACE’s results do match the lofty ideals expressed in their code. According to the 2019 TIMSS benchmark tests, only 37% of grade 5 learners had acquired basic mathematical knowledge, and 28% basic science knowledge. This despite both an above-average budget for education and professional development courses for educators, showing that teacher course attendance does not equal improvement.

Tip 36: Feedback

Take feedback from your students anonymously, if you must. We need to find out if our students understand what we are talking about, so during class, you can ask them questions to check their understanding. Once you’ve given them instructions, ask them, “Okay, does everybody understand?” In most cases, everybody will automatically say yes, so what you should do is ask your students, “Okay, so what do you have to do? How many minutes? What topic will you talk about?” So, just to reinforce that understanding of what they should do.

After doing a test, check on what students understood. Ask them, “Guys, I see you struggled with this. Let’s go over it again.” We need to get that feedback from students. Also, students will be more honest in what they know. So, make sure to constantly check in on them.

Another idea is to have exit paper slips, so once you’ve finished a unit or a lesson, ask the students to jot down what they have learned from this class. What did they understand? What would they like to learn more about or have repeated? By getting better feedback from our students, we can improve our teaching. So, make sure you ask your students what they need to learn more about.

Tip 37: Seek Teaching Opportunities

Always seek continued education opportunities. So, though you teach at a school, you should still hunt down extra opportunities to improve your teaching. You can teach online; you can join teaching organizations and can attend seminars.

This is very similar to tip 33, where I told you to continue your learning, but in this case, I want you to seek opportunities to teach. This is because the more time you spend actually teaching, or in front of a classroom, or online talking with students, the quicker you will improve. If you have the opportunity to coach a sport discipline, or to do some extra murals, volunteer for it, because the more of that you do, the quicker you will progress. I want to encourage you to take on more tasks, especially when you’re new to teaching, because the more things you do, the quicker you will become a better teacher.

37.1 How to qualify as a teacher

To become a qualified teacher, most countries require a university degree plus additional licensing or certification. In many countries, a teaching diploma requires an additional year of tertiary study. In over forty American states, teacher certification involves Praxis or other certification exams.

In several countries, such as Australia, Canada, and South Africa, a one-year postgraduate teaching degree (diploma) must be obtained to qualify as a teacher. In England, post-graduates must gain a Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) by following a program of Initial Teacher Training (ITT).

Rogue online ESL recruiters and private language “schools” often hire non-native English-speaking persons as “teachers”. Alternatively, they hire native English-speaking, but not qualified, persons with no or little training (usually just a 120-hour online TEFL certificate), to teach ESL for menial salaries or very low hourly compensation.

37.2 How to find that first teaching job

Typically, most recruitment for new teachers takes place just before the start of a new school year, but vacancies do arise that need to be quickly filled at schools through the course of the year.

Having graduated and completed their licensing or certification, aspirant teachers find their first teaching positions by seeking vacancies advertised on the official websites of education departments or school districts in the countries, states, or provinces where they live and would like to teach.

Developing a professional teaching CV/ Resume (depending on your country) actually takes a few years. It starts by doing extra-mural activities, such as volunteering or assisting in jobs related to teaching and attending coaching courses in countries where teachers also coach sports teams.

Also, gain extra-mural or specialized certification where possible and, in so doing, also obtain good references (recommendations). Pre-qualified teachers can, in certain situations, also do online teaching or private classes to gain experience.

Finally, a portfolio must be accompanied by a cover letter that is amended specifically for each application, never use a generic letter. Also, produce a short video, usually under 60 seconds, to accompany your application. Do research on the school you are applying to before the interview. Practice how to answer typical interview questions.

Young undergrads often dream of landing jobs at international schools, but as a rule, the better schools and jobs go to experienced teachers with exceptional knowledge of the subjects they teach.

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