I will be the first one to admit that teaching is not an easy job. It is not a walk in the park like most people used to think of it. I can see more parents agreeing to this after COVID-19 turning many parents into tutors.
By now it is obvious that not everyone can teach. Just because you are a subject matter expert does not mean you can teach well. Just because you have been a teacher for decades, it still does not mean that you are the best teacher especially if you practice poor teaching methods in every lesson.
And that is what I want to talk to you about today, poor teaching methods.
1. Excessive ‘Teacher’s Talk’
Call me traitorous but this habit of excessive teacher’s talk has to end.
Yes, everyone agrees you are the teacher but that does not mean you should pose yourself as the authority in the classroom. Neither did anyone command you to give as much input as you can to your students.
This traditional image of a teacher bellowing facts, figures and rules has to stop!
The role of a teacher has changed. The goals of the class have not. The goal is still the same – student’s interest, curiosity and comprehension.
In today’s world where you have to compete with the ubiquitous smartphone for your students’ attention, you must step up your game or risk talking to yourself in your classes. Instead of spewing facts, how about becoming facilitators in your students’ learning experience? Why not prompt and nudge them to find the answers on their own?
Instead of spoon-feeding your students, guide them in their learning. Give them the opportunity to process the information that you provide, analyze it, evaluate it and make it their own. Return the ownership of learning back to your students!
As a matter of fact, at Pasxcel, all our master teachers are trained to constantly coach and mentor in our classes instead of performing teachers’ talk. In doing so, we teachers can train our students to be independent learners who will be able to learn on their own without having to depend on the teacher’s input alone.
2. Rote Learning
Another bad, very bad teaching method that teachers use in their lesson is rote learning.
There is no room for rote learning in today’s classroom or society!
This method simply does not spark curiosity in students. It does not encourage creative thinking skill, nor the ability to think spontaneously. Furthermore, at this age and time, there is certainly no value in being an information holder/reproducer. ‘Mr. Google’ can do that for you for free.
Even in IGCSE, 80% of the marks are for application and analysis of information. Not for reproducing textbook knowledge. At Pasxcel, we ensure our students learn how to think and use their knowledge effectively.
3. This is part of the syllabus
Repeat after me, “Learning is for life. Not IGCSE.”
One student asked me, “Why do I have to study algebra?” That question took the class down a 10 minutes explanation on how our whole life is algebra. Life is always working with what you know to solve the unknown. At the end of the examples and stories, they usually look defeated. Eventually, they confided in me that the previous teacher told them to study it because it is part of the syllabus.
I was shocked.
As teachers, it is our duty to destroy the attitude of, ‘I only need to study when there’s an exam coming.’ This mindset is counterproductive in producing life long learners which is one of the main mission at Pasxcel. It also robs learning of its initial purpose which is the acquisition of knowledge.
Therefore, it is the teachers’ job to encourage and instil the mindset that learning is for life.
4. Not Building Upon Existing Knowledge
Ever heard of Krashen’s theory of ‘i +1’? It is a famous theory among educators which says in order to expand the existing knowledge that the students already have (i), the teachers must provide relatable new information (1) that can be connected together.
Basically, it is a process of creating a bridge between new knowledge with the existing knowledge. Nonetheless, some teachers do not do this in their teaching. What they do is they keep on providing new input without having the urge to connect this new information with the students’ previous knowledge. When this happens, it will be harder for students to understand the subjects especially the difficult topics. Eventually, students will become discouraged to learn the subject.
5. Not Being a Clown
This gets me a lot of flake so I am going to go ahead and quote some science here.
“Positive emotions flood our brains with dopamine and serotonin. These are chemicals that not only make us feel good, but they also improve our memory and ability to learn.” (The World Counts, 2020). Boom!
Teachers, the state of learning is important for the children to learn and absorb information better. Thus, you have to make sure that your students are in the best state to learn. Change your plain lesson into an interesting one. Make learning fun. Crack jokes, make your students laugh, be someone whom the students are comfortable to show their weaknesses. Make them think that learning is not as tedious as they think it would be.
In addition, according to McSpadden (2015), people now generally lose their attention after 8 seconds. Yep, all that Instagram scrolling the deep has resulted in us having an attention span that is shorter than a goldfish by a whole second!
Guess what happens when your lessons are not engaging enough? Your students’ minds will start to wander to everything and anything besides the topic at hand. Hence, it is your job to bring back their interest in learning. However, I must warn you that I have been advised that reading from the textbooks is not the best solution. This is really the time for you to show your students how creative and fun their teacher is.
6. Not Asking for Feedback
Assuming that teachers are the experts of the subject that they are teaching, they probably do not realize that their teaching might be lacking in some areas. Worse, they do not want to take initiative to assess their own teaching method and never ask for anyone’s feedback, especially their students. Nonetheless, students are extremely good at telling whether your lesson is boring or not. Ask them to answer a survey questionnaire without writing their names and they’ll pour their heart out and write a longer essay than they do in their examination telling how you should have taught them.
Do not look at this as something that would hurt your pride. Consider it as the first step to improve your teaching method so that you can always be a better teacher, someone that students want to learn from.
7. Lack of Interest in Student’s Life
Some teachers teach to educate. Some teachers teach to get paid. Some teachers teach for satisfaction. You know your reason to teach. Whatever the reason is, there is one thing that you are obliged to when you have become a teacher; to give knowledge.
In the process of giving that knowledge, you have to make sure that the knowledge that you intend to convey will be delivered and received by the students and it will be hard for this to happen if the students are not in their best state to learn. If you do not know anything about the students’ background, what they like and what they do not, what problems they are facing and what makes them learn better, how are you going to create an effective teaching and learning session and make the students enjoy your lesson as they learn?
8. Being Poker Face
Do you agree that whatever a teacher says, is certainly a fact? Do you agree that teachers will never make mistakes? Well, I don’t. Teachers are humans. Teachers are in their own process of learning and most importantly, teachers have weaknesses and make mistakes too. If you make mistakes in front of your students, admit that you are wrong. Demonstrate your weaknesses. Be vulnerable. Admit that you don’t know things. Ask them for help to teach you. There’s no hurt in getting some help, right? Let the students feel important and realize the fact that no one is excluded from making mistakes including teachers. This then would make them less fearful about making and learning from mistakes.
As I mentioned earlier, teaching is definitely not an easy job. You need knowledge, patience, creativity and you need to be cool (I’ve always wanted cool teachers). Therefore, we should be the best version of any teacher we can be and stop practicing poor methods in our lesson.
Accounting, Business Studies, Economics & Financial Literacy
BA(Hons) Finance, Accounting & Management, Sunway University
Chartered Accountant, ACCA.
Yuventhiran Nadarajan is a father, husband, speaker and entrepreneur. But he is best known among students and parents alike as an educator. Teacher Yuven believes that the current schooling system is outdated beyond measure and is the last piece of surviving antiquity in our fast-paced ever-changing world.