Educational leadership: Tips for inspiring students and making a difference
**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**
A guest column by Anita Ginsburg
As a teacher, you do your best to plan every lesson and prepare every lecture several days in advance. You follow the curriculum to the letter, and you only use the best textbooks when planning your assignments. But as a teacher, you want to do more than just hand out grades and percentages. You want to inspire, encourage and motivate students. You recognize that a complete education doesn’t always come from a textbook or essay. If you truly want to make a difference in the classroom, you’ll need to implement the following steps:
- Set High Expectations
At the beginning of each school year, you probably establish a few ground rules for expected behavior. You let students know that you want their homework in on time, and you tell them to turn off their phones when they enter the room. But your expectations should go beyond basic classroom guidelines. You need to communicate that you expect them to not just listen but to absorb, and that you want them to not just pass a test but to remember what they’ve learned. At every opportunity, let your students know when you see an improvement in their progress. Give your students examples of what a successful assignment, paper, or test looks like, so they can work toward that goal.
- Show Your Enthusiasm
You likely spent several years studying specific courses to earn your degree, so clearly you have a passion for certain areas of education. When you share your enthusiasm for your favorite subjects, you can spread that energetic spark to the rest of your students. Even if students don’t seem initially engaged in science, math, or social studies, your own excitement can often pique their curiosity. They’ll feel intrigued about your enthusiasm, and they just might want to do a little research of their own to find out more. To develop better teaching techniques and leadership skills to keep students engaged and excited, consider getting a master’s degree in education. The experience and knowledge you can pass on to your students can be very beneficial.
- Let Your Students Take Control
While you shouldn’t let your students push you around, you can give them a degree of choice about what they do in your classroom. Rather than reigning supreme and assigning what you think best, let your students choose their own topics for papers and projects, so long as they relate to the course content.
For example, if you teach history, you could let a student write about his or her family’s historical immigration experience, rather than restricting an essay to the immigration act of 1924. Or if you teach physics, you could let an athletic student compare the spin and rotation of a soccer ball versus a football. When you let your students connect their assignments to their own personal interests, you give them the opportunity to engage in and explore their work more deeply.
Of course, these are just a few ways you can make a difference in the classroom. It’s important to keep learning yourself to continue inspiring your students. From small seminars to higher education, every step counts to making a difference in the lives of your students.