Back to Basics

After a while as a teacher you get comfortable.   You can manage your classroom, you know your talking points, and you are confident in the classroom.    Everything seems to be together, but somehow your students still miss out on key material.

Don’t get too comfortable.   You’re going to need to re-examine your class.

It is easy to mistake our own comfort with the educational experience with our student’s confidence and comfort.     It is a natural mistake to make!   We see in others what is most clearly in ourselves.    It is still imperative to focus on what is important:  don’t lose sight of the teaching for the pedagogy.

One of the hard lessons that I’ve had to learn is that every class is unique, and that no matter how well the previous 4 or 6 classes absorbed the same material,  there is no guarantee that your current class will.   It may even be useful to go back over your catalog of lesson plans.    Maybe even write a few new ones, to cover those intermediate topics that your particular classes may need.     Revisiting some of your original ideas for teaching gives you a chance to better adapt and revamp some of your material.

One thing that I never want to do is to ossify.   Getting comfortable is one thing, becoming sloppy is another.

If you don’t want to consider this going back to your basic teaching principles, how about we just call it “maturing” as a teacher.


So for myself, here are my basic rules for teaching:

  1. Don’t cripple your students by going easy on them.
  2. Patience isn’t a virtue, it is an utter necessity.
  3. Have a plan for your class.   If you don’t, they will.
  4. Make it fun.   “Learning while asleep” is science fiction.     At least half of teaching is entertainment.
  5. Don’t waste your time trying to convince a student that they need to learn.   Let them convince themselves that they need to learn.
  6. When the time comes, give your students the grade they’ve earned.
  7. Never give up on a student.   If you do, then they will too.


Now go forth and educate, or something.

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