As educators, our goal is to become the best teacher we possibly can. Unless we are a year or two away from retirement, and then our goal is to get through the next couple of years anyway possible. You may think that to become an outstanding teacher, you just have to try harder. However, this is not the case. You have heard the old saying to work smarter, not harder. The same can be said for improving your teaching skills. Listed below are four simple ways to ensure that you are on your way to become an outstanding teacher.

Be Open to Advice

It doesn’t cost you anything to seek and listen to other professional educators’ advice. It just requires an open mind. Too many people in life like to think that they know enough about every subject under the sun, but it pays off to listen to others.

With the prevalence of social media nowadays, you no longer are relegated to just your hallway teachers at school. You can communicate with virtually any teacher in the world and ask them questions that will help you become a better educator. However, you have to be aware of privacy difficulties when using social media.

The social media platform I like to use is called TeachersConnect. Its focus is on community interaction instead of selling ads, selling products or selling your personal data. It’s not a one-way channel like many educational sites where they create all the content and you just consume it. TeachersConnect is an online community built by a group of former and active teachers. It is a place where ideas, advice, and resources can be exchanged freely by educators that are interested in helping one another through the obstacles of education.

One of the best parts about it is how it is exclusively for teachers, no parents, students or other unwanted prying and judging eyeballs. One drawback to TeachersConnect is that it’s new and relatively small compared to the others. It just launched in January 2018 but seems to be growing rapidly.

Talk to Your Students

Not all of your discussions with students and parents have to be centered on classroom learning. When they see that you are just an ordinary person that has other interests besides teaching, they will open up to you more. I always let my students know my love of baseball, dogs, and Elvis, and every year I get enough gifts related to these three things to last a lifetime. The parents and students sometimes remember more about your life rather than every classroom lesson you teach. Being able to relate to them in this way is a huge step to becoming an outstanding teacher.

Bring in More Technology

We have to teach our students in a way that will prepare them for the 21st-century workforce. That means you have to educate them on different technologies that are currently out there and keep an eye open for anything else new that comes along. If you aren’t using technology in at least some way for every lesson you present, then you are failing your students as a teacher. It might mean that you have to change up your teaching methods a bit, but that is not always a bad thing. Being an outstanding teacher means being at the forefront of the cutting edge of technology.

Think Outside the Box

One thing that I used to do that my students enjoyed was bringing in people from the community to talk about how certain subjects relate to their career choice. We have had accountants, mayors, engineers, writers, doctors, and many other professionals inform the students about how their classes prepared them for their future careers. It lets the students realize that they should have goals set in place when taking classes. This is just one way a teacher may think outside the box when educating their students. Feel free to share how you go about doing this with your own students.

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