It is important for teachers to be able to assess their efficacy and make necessary changes. These changes will help the teacher become more effective and the students will show improvement as a result. By being prepared, knowing your students, and being a reflective teacher, you can become more effective in your classroom. Here are 5 ways to be a more effective teacher:

Get prepared

This encompasses both preparation for teaching and organization for planning. Preparation requires you to know your material ahead of time. Review key concepts and ideas if you are unclear, particularly if it has been a while since you have worked with the topics you’ll be teaching. Get organized by utilizing planners, day books, etc. to have a timeline of concepts, assignments and activities, and assessments. It will give you a physical representation of your curricular arc throughout the semester or school year. Don’t be afraid to organize other parts of your teaching life as well. Computer folders can be organized to facilitate storage of teaching materials, attendance records.

Know your students’ learning styles

Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences suggests that there are multiple areas in which humans are skilled. One way to increase the effectiveness of your lessons is to play a game with yourself: How many different ways can you present the same information? The more variety in presentation of concepts in your lessons the more likely your students are to learn the information. Not only this, but getting to know your students at this level promotes a deeper connection to the students in formulating lesson plans and determining more adequate assessment measures.

Have purpose to your activities

Everyone remembers that teacher who would blindly hand out worksheets as busy work for the students to complete because that’s all they had been taught to do. Instead, a more effective teacher should assess the activity proposed for the lesson and ask two questions: (1) Why are my students doing this; and (2) What is the intended goal? Establishing a learning outcome for the activity or program before the activity will encourage you to think about its purpose in the conceptual arc.

Give accurate feedback

Research has shown that the wrong kind of feedback can be harmful to students. Accurate feedback is necessary for students’ development. Praise, when warranted, should be given with specificity. Ex., “Jordan, you did an excellent job with your sentence structure in this entire paragraph.” General praise is beneficial when accurate as well, but less reinforcing. Ex., “Really nice job!” Inaccurate feedback, positive or negative, is equally detrimental to the learning of the student. It provides false representation of the student’s actions which negatively reinforces the behavior.

Get a master’s degree

Adequate teacher preparation is one of the most important determining factors to a teacher’s success in the classroom. Well-prepared teachers are more likely to remain in the teaching profession and are more effective teachers in the classroom. Consider looking into master degree programs to further your education as a teacher. Being an avid learner increases your effectiveness as a teacher which increases student achievement. There are multiple options for pursuing master degree programs which include traditional on-campus attendance as well as online options for those who wish to continue working.

Encourage yourself to become more reflexive as a teacher. By getting prepared, knowing your students’ learning styles, showing reflective thinking in activity planning and assessing, pursuing graduate education, and giving accurate feedback, you can be more effective in your classroom. Being a lifelong learner is not only beneficial for you, but for your students as well.