Travis Bradberry, Author of Emotional Intelligence, 2.0 recently identified eight habits of interesting people. Teachers certainly want to be found interesting by their students. No one wants school to be boring, least of all the students.
Channel Your Passion
Think back to when you first decided to become a teacher. What was the catalyst for making that decision? Maybe a variety of experiences working with children left you fulfilled, and you decided to spend your time among them. Perhaps you helped someone learn something new, and as a result you felt the satisfaction that comes with being a part of that light bulb moment. Remember the reason you do what you do and then let it drive everything you do. Bear in mind that your passion and love for learning shine through and can create that same passion in your students. When someone is passionate about what they do they seek to learn more, they become an expert, and they continually strive to hone their craft. All of these things lead to a more interesting person, a more engaging teacher.
Try Something New
When you’ve been teaching for a few years, it can be tempting to coast, and just keep doing what you’ve been doing. Of course, it is nice to be able to roll over your plans from year to year, and there is no need to reinvent the wheel, but be careful not to get stuck. Try reading new books, visit other classrooms, browse the web for new ideas, brainstorm with other teachers. Examine what works in your classroom and what might need some tweaking. Look outside yourself and welcome new ways of doing things.
Embrace Who You Are
Teachers are as different as the colors of the rainbow. Consequently, there is no one ‘right’ way to be a teacher. Maybe you are strict and structured, or maybe you are more free and easy. There are benefits to all different styles, and all kids can benefit from experiencing various types of teachers. While of course, you want to improve your weaknesses, embrace who you are right now. Your comfort in your skin will instantly make you more interesting (and a whole lot happier!) Be proud of what you, and only you, have to offer your students.
Be a Leader
Take the lead and speak your mind. You have good ideas! You are an expert in your field, and you know a little something about this teaching thing. Share your expertise with those around you. Remember what it was like to be that brand new teacher? Seek out opportunities to mentor them. Furthermore, parents and students look to you as a good example of communication, hard work, dedication, and respect. All teachers can be leaders. Don’t wait for someone else to take the lead. Take the initiative and make your classroom what you want it to be.
Don’t Feed Your Ego
Be proud of all you’ve learned and all you have accomplished, but stay humble. Since no one is perfect, we all have room to improve. It is important to be able to listen to feedback from those around us. Administrators, parents, and students will tell us things that might hurt our ego. Try to listen with an open mind and take criticism as an opportunity to grow. People that are interesting can consider a variety of viewpoints, while a closed-minded person is decidedly uninteresting. So is a boastful one.
Teachers Learn Too
You know you are always learning, and not just about how to be a better teacher. Expand your learning in a variety of ways. Read read read, pursue new hobbies, learn about the world. Having varied knowledge gives more tools to draw from: your knowledge in addition to your experience. This helps you relate to students and provides you with extensive knowledge to share with them.
Share What You Learn
Don’t be afraid of sharing your knowledge. You have years of education and probably years of experience under your belt, so you probably have plenty to share. Be confident in what you know and share it with your students and their parents. Incorporate your own experiences into the classroom since personal stories are often the most memorable and most effective teaching tools. Be sure to share that you are learning too. Share your learning process, including any mistakes you might make. Share the evolution in your thinking. When your students see you learning, they will see you as a dynamic, evolving human being.
Forget About What Others are Thinking
To some extent, we all care what others think of us. It’s hard not to be self-conscious. A wise man once said ‘What other people think of me is none of my business.’ Don’t try to fit your life into the mold of what others want. They will see right through it, and the lack authenticity will be rapidly apparent. When you are so worried about what others think, all you can share is a shallow shell of who you are. When you live authentically, you are much more interesting. You are free to share your own experiences. You are free to laugh. Finally, you are free to make mistakes and grow from them.
This year, be who you are, keep learning, share that knowledge, and feed your passion, but not your ego. Let the interesting person in you shine through, capturing the attention of your students and ignite the flame of learning within them.
Amy Curletto has been teaching for 12 years in grades K-2. She has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and also has endorsements in reading and ESL. Besides education, her other passion is writing and she has always dreamed of being a writer. She lives in Utah with her husband, her 3 daughters, and her miniature schnauzer. She enjoys reading, knitting, and camping.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.