The Dos and Don’ts of Effective Teaching: Best Practices for Educators

No matter the age group or the subject you teach, your first year in the classroom can be exciting, but also scary! Here are six dos and don’ts I’ve gleaned from experienced educators that helped me during my first few weeks and months of teaching.

As teachers, we all want to have a positive impact on our students’ growth and learning. However, teaching comes with many challenges, and it’s easy to fall into common traps that actually hinder student engagement and comprehension.

In my 10+ years as an educator, I’ve learned a lot about classroom best practices through both mistakes and successes. Here are my top dos and don’ts for teaching effectively and keeping students motivated.

Don’t Try to Teach Too Much in One Day

One of the biggest mistakes I made early in my career was trying to cram way too much content into a single lesson or school day I wanted to make sure I covered everything in the curriculum and then some

However, this resulted in completely overwhelming and exhausting my students. There’s only so much information they can truly absorb at once.

Now I follow the mantra of “less is more.” It’s better to teach a few key concepts really well than gloss over dozens of ideas superficially.

Do Break Lessons Into Manageable Chunks

To avoid overloading kids with information I now chunk lessons into digestible sections. I start with an engaging warm-up activity to pique their interest.

Then we alternate between 10-15 minute direct instruction blocks and hands-on student activities. This helps replenish their attention spans and keeps energy levels high.

Ending on a high note or with a fun review game reinforces the material without dragging on too long. My students leave each day feeling satisifed rather than burnt out.

Don’t Teach Lessons Without Student Activities

One of the worst things we can do as teachers is drone on lecture-style without any student participation. Kids zone out and get restless very quickly when being talked at non-stop.

Make sure to incorporate interactive elements into every lesson – worksheets, experiments, discussions, games, etc. Let students demonstrate what they know through projects and presentations.

Activities allow kids to engage different learning styles and stay actively involved in building their own knowledge.

Do Offer Choices For Student Activities

While activities are key, assigning the exact same workout to every student doesn’t work well. Kids have diverse interests and backgrounds.

Provide a range of activity options that tap into different strengths and allow students to self-select what resonates most. This increases motivation and caters to different learning preferences.

Choice boards, genius hour passion projects, and “menu” style assignments give kids more agency over their learning. Offering choices also builds self-direction and decision making skills.

Don’t Send Kids to the Office for Misbehavior

Shipping students off to the principal’s office should be an absolute last resort. It removes them from learning and often escalates issues rather than solving them.

Instead, address problem behaviors calmly within the classroom first. Have a private conversation to understand why the student is acting out and how you can help get them back on track.

Connecting positively with students as individuals prevents many problems from arising in the first place. Sending kids out of the room tears those connections down.

Do Set Clear Expectations and Routines

Prevent disruptions and power struggles by proactively setting classroom norms and routines. Involve students in collectively generating shared standards for behavior and participation.

Reinforce expectations regularly by referring back to them when giving directions. Consistently holding every student accountable to the same standards prevents confusion and pushback.

Well-established routines also boost efficiency for activities like turning in assignments, group work, using the bathroom, etc. Kids appreciate and rise to consistent structure.

Don’t Allow Shouting Out Answers

It can be tempting to allow students to call out answers, which feels participatory. However, this results in chaos, with the loudest kids dominating discussion.

Insist that students raise their hands and wait to be called on before speaking. You can use name cards or popsicle sticks randomly drawn to help vary who contributes.

This ensures all kids have equal opportunity to share their thinking. Listening skills improve as well when students know discussion follows an orderly process.

Do Frequently Check for Understanding

Simply asking “Does anyone have any questions?” often elicits silence even if students are lost. Instead, proactively check for comprehension throughout each lesson.

Have quick turn and talks where students summarize concepts in their own words or give a thumbs up/down. Use exit tickets, short quizzes, or quick poll questions to gauge the room.

Circulate as students work independently to see who needs clarification. Checking for understanding ensures you can circle back on anything unclear before moving forward.

Don’t Make Tests Too Long or Difficult

We want assessments to accurately reflect students’ learning, not obliterate their confidence. Avoid intimidatingly long tests or overly tricky questions. These overwhelm students and cause test anxiety.

Keep assessments focused on the key concepts you want students to master from each unit or lesson. Balance difficulty levels to include some low-floor, high-ceiling opportunities.

Reasonable tests give students the satisfaction of demonstrating their new knowledge without crushing their spirits.

Do Offer Retakes and Extra Help

Rather than forcing students to just accept a bad test grade, provide opportunities to revisit and retake difficult assessments. Offer tutoring, small group instruction, or study halls.

This shows students that the goal is expanding their learning, not just evaluating failures. Supporting them in reaching mastery on concepts they struggled with at first is far more meaningful than leaving them stuck.

Don’t Be Wishy Washy or Indecisive

Kids seek structure and certainty. If you seem unsure how to run your classroom or waver on decisions, it undermines your authority.

Exude confident leadership by demonstrating you know your stuff and sticking to choices once made. It’s fine to admit when you don’t know something and commit to finding out. But don’t backtrack on expectations already set.

Establishing yourself as a steady, decisive presence in the classroom prevents students from trying to argue or negotiate at every turn.

Do Admit When You’ve Made a Mistake

With that said, we are all human and will inevitably make some missteps over a school year. Don’t double down when you realize you were wrong.

Honestly admitting to students when you’ve made a mistake models accountability. Thank them for their patience and explain your corrected understanding.

This builds mutual respect and trust. Students see you’re willing to take ownership rather than pinning failures on them.

Don’t Threaten to Call Home

It’s easy to lose patience with misbehaving students and threaten to call their parents. But this essentially tattles on them instead of solving underlying issues.

Only reach out to family once you have built a positive relationship with the student directly. Get their buy-in and explain you want to work as a team to help them succeed.

Looping in parents should be to open lines of communication, not as a weapon. Make it clear you see the good in every student and want to bring it out.

Do Prioritize Building Relationships

At the heart of great teaching are caring relationships between teachers and students. Make connecting with kids on a personal level your number one priority.

Learn about their lives, interests, challenges and goals. Share your own story and what motivates you. Laugh together and celebrate wins.

When you show genuine interest in students as individuals, most behavioral issues and disengagement fade away. Focus on getting to know your class deeply before expecting achievement.

Don’t Try to be the “Cool” Teacher

Some new teachers strive so ardently to get students to like them that they end up coming across as more of a peer than an authority figure.

You want to build rapport with students, not be overly permissive in hopes of being considered the fun, chill teacher. Overemphasizing being liked backfires.

Earn students’ respect through fair policies, insightful teaching and caring support. Let your passion for helping them grow speak for itself.

Teaching is deeply rewarding yet full of potential pitfalls. Following these dos and don’ts will help you avoid common mistakes and set your students up for success. Here’s to an incredible, inspirational school year!

dos and donts of teaching

Dos and Dont’s of Teaching | Dos and Dont’s of Teacher | Dos and Dont’s Teacher Edition

Do you know the do’s and don’ts of teaching?

It’s important to know the do’s and don’ts of teaching so you can better prepare for a productive school year. Learning the do’s of teaching can show you some useful strategies that may improve your level of teaching, establish a positive relationship with your students and improve their behavior in the classroom.

What are the DOs & DON’Ts for successful teaching?

In this post, we will look at some of the dos and don’t for successful teaching in 4 key areas: planning and preparation; classroom management, getting the most out of your learners; and delivering lessons. 1. Planning and preparation Have an outcome in mind, not just for your next lesson, but for the next set of lessons.

What are the Do’s & Don’ts of teaching psychology?

A few other items to consider as you navigate the do’s and don’ts of teaching psychology: Do give credit where credit is due. If you borrowed or adapted a lesson, cite the source. It is a great way to let students know that collaboration is part of the process of teaching and learning.

Why is learning the do’s of teaching important?

Learning the do’s of teaching can show you some useful strategies that may improve your level of teaching, establish a positive relationship with your students and improve their behavior in the classroom. In addition, knowing the don’ts for this role can teach you what not to do so that you have better alternatives for the classroom.

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