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Education Teaching

Why my students dislike me?

Surely every teacher has had times when it feels that students dislike, or even hate everything you do. Sometimes it’s just temporary and not something you should worry about, but if this feeling is repeating over and over again, maybe there is something you can do about it.

I went through some research and found a couple articles that have something to say about this subject. My main source article is this, in which they have asked students and teachers write about characters of a good teacher. I’ve reformed this information to questions. Below each question section, you can see the exact wording from the essays. 

So, let’s begin with the checklist:

Am I speaking clearly and loud enough?

This first one is the easiest in the sense that you can almost always improve your articulation and maybe speak a bit louder (not too loud, of course). 
Listed traits: Clear, accurate, explanation, controlling if everyone understands, verbally competent 

Am I interested in students?

Students can’t see everything on teachers mind but they are very good at sensing whether the teacher cares about them and their personality. Very many answers reflect this in some way. However, it is possible to overdo this; if you suddenly become extremely interested about students’ issues that will feel weird. If you feel this might be the problem, try to improve gradually; focus on listening to what students tell you but don’t ask too many questions. 
Listed traits: Takes time to listen and to pay attention, shows interest in people, is available for non-school problems, shows respect, sensitive for pupils’ needs

Is my classroom work organized?

Are you the teacher who is always in search of the important paper while students wait? Or do your lessons flow naturally? Disorganized workflow can lower students’ respect for their teacher. Part of this is planning the lessons properly, but keeping the classroom clean also helps a great deal. Then you won’t lose your on-topic papers under the piles of other papers. Solution: Keep only the necessary papers on the desk and use a clear font for the lesson plan and other papers you may need to read during the lesson.
Listed traits: Care of classroom, organises work, keeps up with the times, plans work

Can I stop talking when I have given the task to students?

Every one of us has probably encountered one when still in school: Teacher who gives you an assignment that should be done quietly and … keeps talking and talking. Luckily the solution is easy: becoming aware of the situation and being quiet. 
Listed traits: Does not distract pupils

Am I being physical?

It’s hopefully clear to everybody that physical punishments are off the table, but refraining from touching in general would also be advisable. All people don’t like touching and if you are thinking of a classroom with dozens of people in it, it’s quite sure that there are some that only want to be touched by family members, not teachers. 
Listed traits: Not touchily, no physical punishments or aggression 

Is the amount of homework reasonable?

This one is not as easy as some of the previous ones. If you know that you are giving students three hours worth of homework every day while your colleagues only give one hour worth, there is surely something there causing negative feelings in students. But more often you can’t really compare that way. If you think homework is the problem, you can try to be more picky and avoid giving too many assignments of the same type. (For example, if you have some reading and some writing you want to assign, keep the both types but consider shorter parts of text for example. In maths, I always used to pick three different task types for homework, such as one mechanic, one applied and one verbal.)
Listed traits: Not too much homework, not too difficult & expecting too much, not too many or difficult lessons, not doing only nice & easy things, not working too hard

Can I spot my own errors?

Everyone makes mistakes and it’s perfectly normal. However, not spotting any errors in your own work means that you may have a blind spot that prevents you from evolving.
Listed traits: Displays self-criticism

Do I use various types of assignments?

Let’s face it: People have different learning strategies. There may be discussion in the field of education about different learning styles and how changeless they are, but we can safely say that at any given time, there are different types of learners in the classroom. Giving various types of assignments helps more students to feel engaged. 
Listed traits: Not all assignments entail autonomous work

Do I have clear rules in the classroom?

For most students, being clear about the rules makes it easier. It is easier to focus on the subject when you don’t have to worry about what you can and cannot do.
Listed traits: Makes rules, Maintains order, Not forbid too much

I’m I too authoritative?

Just like lack of rules, being too authoritative can also drag students’ attention away from the subject. The most dominant feeling will be fear, which naturally overrides the willingness to learn.
Listed traits: Not verbally aggressive, not authoritative, does not look down upon pupils  

Can I create a positive atmosphere?

Not being too negative is a good start and the next step is creating a positive atmosphere. That’s harder to do, I know. If I’m being honest for most of my teaching career, I’ve probably reached only the “not being negative” -step. But if you could create an environment where everybody can openly discuss their thoughts without taking all the space, you are a super teacher! But we can all keep this goal in mind and work towards it. 

Listed traits: Puts things into a positive perspective, enthusiastic, creates positive work climate, friendly towards pupils, organises nice things, makes pupils co-operate, encourages responsibility of pupils, rewarding, motivates pupils, distributes tasks among pupils

Is my grading fair?

This won’t be the first thing students notice about you, but if it turns out that the grading feels arbitrary, that can be bad for your reputation. I think it wouldn’t hurt to state the grading factors out loud when the course starts and again before grading or the big test takes place. You don’t need to spend too much time on it, but give a quick reminder how you are going to give the grades. That will decrease the amount of pupils surprised by their grades with almost no cost to you.

Listed traits: Marking well, gradings reflect pupils’ abilities, warns pupils in advance, not spending too much time on marking

Am I too moody?

Students don’t respect a teacher who is too moody and gets angry easily. Smaller students will be nervous and afraid and older students will make a joke out of that. 
Listed traits: Manners, does not vent his mood on pupils

Am I practicing what I preach?

Yes, there are different rules for students and teachers, but you should only appeal to this when really necessary. A teacher browsing their phone all the time is not a good example. 
Listed traits: Example for pupils

Can I learn more about pedagogy and life?

Students have respect for a teacher that seems to know a lot.
Listed traits: Has a lot of experience, Well educated, Writing well, Telling nice stories, A good storyteller  

Is my teaching at the right level?

Surely, there are a lot of learning goals issued from outside, but if the teaching is not adjusted to the listeners level of understanding, the outcome won’t be any good. 
Listed traits: Extra help for pupils who need support, helping slow learners, takes pupils’ understanding seriously

Do I use pupils’ solutions?

It’s a more meaningful experience for students if their solutions get attention. The solution doesn’t have to be perfect, but if it has some interesting angle it’s good to go through it, if possible.
Listed traits: Applies pupils’ solutions, discussing mistakes

Do I have a favorite class?

Most of us know that having a favorite student is not politically correct. However, you still see today that sometimes teachers have favorite groups. That can discourage the other ones, too. 
Listed traits: Does not compare pupils or classes

Other things worth mentioning

Not all traits earn their own question, but are still worth mentioning. Those are: Maintains good contact with parents, helps with problems, pedagogically sound, handling conflicts, invests a lot of effort, and is well groomed.

Some of these listed traits are more personal in nature, and here they are: Quiet, creative, flexible, stable, humorous, patience, serious, intelligent, not severe, a bit severe, severe, sporting, nice, socially competent, no bad temper, attending, careful, sociable, reliable, respectful, pleasant, meticulous, and fair. You may notice that you can’t please everybody anyway, because there are: not severe – a bit severe – severe, so no panic about these traits. 

I have left about 20 listed things out of this blog post, because they don’t offer any relevant information. 

Student’s success and relation to teacher

There is another research which concludes that students that do well, tend to have better relationships with their teachers. Of course, a teacher can’t do too much about it, but the research suggests that feedback after failure (in a test etc) would not be accompanied with person criticism. 

Students dislike me checklist:

Here are the questions once again in one list, if you want to quickly analyze what might be the problem.

  • Am I speaking clearly and loud enough?
  • Am I interested in students?
  • Is my classroom work organized?
  • Can I stop talking when I have given the task to students?
  • Am I being physical?
  • Is the amount of homework reasonable?
  • Can I spot my own errors?
  • Do I use various types of assignments?
  • Do I have clear rules in the classroom?
  • I’m I too authoritative?
  • Can I create a positive atmosphere?
  • Is my grading fair?
  • Am I too moody?
  • Am I practicing what I preach?
  • Can I learn more about pedagogy and life?
  • Is my teaching at the right level?
  • Do I use pupils’ solutions?
  • Do I have a favorite class?

See also: 11 Timesavers for teacher, How Teachers Pay Teachers search algorithm works?

Categories
Education Teaching

11 Timesavers for Teachers

In this post, I have collected some timesaving tips that I have found helpful for reducing the workload of a busy teacher.

Prepare your test with checking in mind

If you are busy and stressed, you may feel that you want to be as quick as possible when creating tests. But this can become a time consuming mistake! If you have even one ambiguous task in the test, checking and grading that will cost you hours and hours of valuable time!

Laminated repeat

Write down (and laminate, if possible) issues, you have to go through over and over again in the classroom. But don’t hang it on those on the wall, just keep them close. If they are on the wall, students will unfortunately become blind to them. But if you show them once a month or so, these notes will be burned into their memory.

Make your discipline passive

Keep students names or initials in a visible list in the classroom. If a student misbehaves, mark a warning after his name. Two or three warning marks lead to consequences. This way, you don’t have to interrupt your teaching. Students often point the warning out to the misbehaving pupil.

Use self-grading tests, where possible

Many people use spreadsheets for this (like Google Sheets). You can do these tests yourself or find some online. 

Discard papers you don’t need

If you are unsure, get a special place for “probably useless” papers and get rid of the older ones every now and then.

Share lesson plans with your colleagues

You will get engaging variation to your lessons with less work! Nowadays, most schools have some online tools that can be used for that. 

Do things as fast as possible

This may seem obvious, but if you use 15 minutes grading papers rather than getting some coffee, you may get 15 minutes more sleep the next night, and you won’t even need that much coffee the next day! And the time saving pattern is ready.

Track your schedule once

If your teaching work is consuming a tremendous amount of time, you may want to keep track for a week where your time goes. Do you spend much time chatting with your colleagues? Browsing “quickly” facebook when you should be making lesson plans? Watching television while checking tests at home.

Delegate

All those classroom tasks, delegate those to students!

Emergency file for substitute teacher

This doesn’t help your everyday work, but keeping an useful file for substitute teacher can help you when needed most: when you are ill. I recommend that this would be an old-fashioned file, because it’s very likely that the substitute teacher doesn’t have the access to the school online system when the first lesson starts. 

Binary grading

Some subjects can be very time consuming from a grading point of view. Consider creating a very simple grading system you use after each lesson. It can be like: good – moderate – not completed. You can collect them as a numbers to Excel worksheet during every lesson (during, not after!) when students are doing something creative. Zero means not done, 1 means moderate and two is for good. Remember to put 2 for every student that is absent for a legit reason. That way occasional cold won’t affect their grades. If someone is missing many classes, you may have to consider their grade otherwise, anyway. Now, at the end of the semester, you just calculate every student’s points with Excel, and there is a base for the grade or points for class activity. Then you only have to adjust / count in points from other areas, such as tests.

Hopefully these tips were helpful! For myself, the last one has been the most helpful, but maybe for you, it’s something else. Take care!

See also: Why my students dislike me?

Categories
Education Materials Teaching

World flags – Harsh history smoothed

Some time ago, I got this idea about “fastly and quickly” doing some printables for all the little flag enthusiastic out there. I thought that colors and symbols in flags will represent peace, prosperity and all furry and cute things.

Little did I know. Stories behind flags were full of blood and tears. There are so many countries out there that have fought to get their independence! To keep it appropriate for children, I had to come up with euphemisms for these situations. I think the worst story was that after a fight, the king was totally covered in blood and the only non-red part was the one that had had a belt on it during the fight. Do you know what that flag was?

Other problems were flags that were so old, that experts can only make educated guesses where the colors and symbols come from. Sometimes the symbols are no longer the best representatives of the current nation and its people.

Take the Scandinavian cross for example. The cross represents Christianity and has been copied to other scandinavian flags from the Danish flag, which is the oldest continuously used flag in the world and design is likely to date back to crusades. However, scandinavian countries are quite secular and non-crusadic these days, but the flags remain (and people are proud of those flags, too.)

I also learned that there are certain color sets, such as pan-African colors and pan-Arab colors which appear in many flags of their representative area. There is also a pan-Slavic color set, but that happens to be the same as the “colors of freedom” and you are not always sure what the reference is. 

The set contains a small presentation, list of world flags and their meanings and some crosswords to recognize flags. It’s available here.