Teaching with Authority and Control
Guest Blogger: Harper Mac
The business of teaching and learning has changed significantly in the past decade. Both teachers and students have had to adjust to evolving technology, new governmental regulations, and the ever-shifting role teachers can and should play in the lives of their students. What hasn’t changed, however, is the need for teachers to balance encouraging their students with maintaining a high level of professionalism. It might seem like a conflict, but you can show empathy for your students while still maintaining authority and control.
Accentuate the positive
Rising class sizes have put tougher demands on teachers and their time, both inside and outside of the classroom. Keeping more than 15 students under control and on task is a challenge; but some school districts are facing class sizes of 30 students or more. It’s a trend that’s rising in both K-12 and higher education. For college instructors, some classes tend to be large, but controlling large college classes can still be a trial.
One of the most basic ways to keep students engaged is to offer positive reinforcement of students who perform well. Praise students—in public and in one-on-one meetings—not just for high grades but for improvement as well. This will help you keep control of your classroom, but it will also make it clear that you’re the leader of the class as well. The more positive you can be in class, the more your students may respond to your upbeat mood and your focus.
Handle conflicts with grace
If you teach for longer than a semester, you’re sure to encounter a student who’s disruptive or even combative in class. Or perhaps you’ll have a student who’s made it clear that he’s uninterested in the material you’re teaching. What’s important is that you stay in control of the situation: a one-on-one meeting with the student is a good way to start to diffuse an argumentative student’s attitude. Make it clear that you’re willing to listen to any legitimate concerns from your student and that your goal is to help him/her succeed. If reaching out to the student doesn’t work, you may want to bring your department head or program administrator in to help you resolve the issue before it becomes a larger problem.
Build relationships across the net
Many classes now take place online, which can make building a rapport with students more difficult. But online education doesn’t have to sacrifice the relationship between a student and a teacher. Do what you can to stay in touch with your students, whether you’re teaching a class that meets at the same time each week or an asynchronous course. Keep virtual office hours so that your students can meet with you via e-mail, Skype, or chat. And make sure that you’re accessible via e-mail and phone on a regular basis.
Work smarter, not harder
An integral part of maintaining a professional teaching style involves doing prep work. Spending an hour or two of each day preparing for your classes means more than reviewing your class materials: reading the news and staying informed of current events can be a great way to encourage class discussion. You can also make reading the news a part of your students’ homework: regardless of the class subject, knowing what’s going in the field is a good way to show how practical knowledge can be used in learning. The more involved you can get your students in their own learning, the more ownership they’re likely to take in their assignments and grades.
Teaching is often a demanding job, but that doesn’t mean you’re not making a difference in the lives of your students. Taking the time to strike a balance between doing your job well and serving your students requires that you concentrate on the positive aspects of the job and that you concentrate on giving your students the best education you can provide.
About the Author
Harper Mac loves to write about education. Making time to study and play with her children can be difficult to balance. She feels as if finding the balance is very important to personal health. She loves to learn more about eco-friendly living in her spare time.