Google Helpouts: Yay or Nay?

VivianaGoogle on Tuesday introduced Helpouts to connect customers to experts for one-on-one teaching sessions. The tool enables people to “get real help from real people in real time“.

What does that mean? You search for a topic you need help with and chose a “teacher” that can explain you whatever you need to know. For example, you can request a Wardrobe Stylist consultation, Spanish lesson or get support for home repair. The teacher sets a price for their time spent with you and Google gets chunk of that money, naturally.

Looks pretty cool, right? Many people think so, others not so much. Reactions from both camps have been quite strong.
Here is a snapshot of the main arguments:

New or Old?

While some declare the new marketplace for real-time help a game-changer…

And see Google as a leader in innovation…

SummiyahMalik

This is AWESOME. Google be the God of Internet innovation and initiation t.co/BHaXfJbqRP

Others accuse Google of copying their Startup idea…

And some are simply not sure what we can expect from it.

Community or Business?

Are Google Helpouts going to help people find useful advice or will the space will overloaded with “retail heavy-hitters” trying to gain more visibility?

It’s quite hard to say at this stage. Google Helpouts already offer some great expert tips for free.

At the same time, many small businesses will turn to this platform to promote their services and use it as yet another way to try and grab attention of their potential customers.

Awesome or Lame?

What do you think?

You can find the original Storify here.

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Score Your Dream Job: Become a Fashion Stylist

Wendy MakWendy Mak is a Success Stylist™ who helps women entrepreneurs get the successful mindset and realize their full potential. Wendy is a well-known fashion stylist (as seen on The Morning Show, Channel 10 and Today Tonight), coach, and regular media commentator on all things stylish.

When I started my personal styling business there was no training available and I struggled to find a mentor and coach in this industry who was willing to teach me what they knew.

Fast forward to today and I’m proud to say I lead one of the most amazing styling agencies in Australia.

Now I’ve packaged my knowledge in running a successful styling business into an easy-to-understand, fun short course on how to become a personal fashion stylist, so that you don’t have to go through my experience when starting out.

A personal fashion stylist is quite a unique profession. How did you come up with the idea to become one?

When I first decided to start my own business as a personal stylist, I saw a gap in the market. At the time there really were only more traditional image consultants or very expensive fashion stylists for celebrities / someone with lots of money to spend. No one was offering an affordable service to help the every day woman with her wardrobe and style dilemmas.

What were the main challenges you faced as a starting fashion stylist without reputation?

Because personal styling as a service wasn’t very common in Australia at the time, a lot of my focus was on educating people to understand what a stylist is, how we can help and why they should hire one.

You are an advocate of “more is less” when it comes to clothes. Can you explain us your wardrobe philosophy?

A good wardrobe that gives maximum bang for your buck needs balance. I always tell my clients it should have enough of the basics so you can mix-and-match your everyday wear and enough of the “frills” – stuff that’s fun, interesting, colourful and on trend so you can add extra flair to your basics.

Where do you find inspiration for styling your clients?

My inspiration is really from the client herself. I dress every client to reflect their personality, what they are comfortable with and to show off the best of their body shape.

How does an average day of a fashion stylist look like?

It can vary so much! Some days you could be out with clients, in their homes doing a wardrobe review or in the stores helping them with new outfits. Other times you’ll be working on things like your newsletter, social media or following up bookings and appointments. It’s never routine and never dull that’s for sure! You’re always meeting new people too which is most of the fun!

What is the most important skill a fashion stylist needs to have?

Communication skills are THE most important. You need to understand what a client wants, work with their feedback and communicate why you have chosen to dress them in a particular way. So you’re listening, talking and trying to draw out information from your client all the time.

You now train others to become a personal stylist. In a nutshell, what can we expect to learn in your course?

In a nutshell, mine is a 3-day express course for those that love fashion and helping others. In the course you’ll learn how to style women of all shapes, sizes and ages . I also give you step by step instructions on how to conduct a successful wardrobe consultation, shopping trip and how to set up and market your personal styling business.

Fashion Stylist Course

What is the one piece of advice you would give anyone who wants to follow your steps?

Just give it a crack – I think that’s my philosophy for most things in life! If this is what you want to do, get out there, get some training and then DO IT. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you!

More information about Wendy: www.wendymak.com
Enrol in her course Become a personal / fashion stylist course (women’s styling)

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Part 5. Teaching Face-To-Face Versus Online

VivianaRecent proliferation of online educational tools has changed the way learning experiences are created and shared. Both teachers and students have access to a great variety of online options to either deliver or access classes. Understanding the pros and cons of the different formats can help you decide which environment best suits your needs.

Face-To-Face

Student and Tutor

Photo by Tulane Public Relations via Flickr

Face-to-face method implies that the lessons are delivered fully on-site with face-to-face interaction between the teacher or tutor and student. This does not mean digital resources and technologies cannot be used as a part of the course. In many cases, they do complement classroom learning and can serve as additional study materials.

Advantages

  • multi-sensory appeal – your students can listen, ask you questions, see your presentations and participate in class activities
  • immediate feedback – you can see when students don’t understand and can immediately interact with them

Disadvatages

  • limited flexibility – you need to follow a set schedule which is not necessarily the best learning time for everyone. Unless you record your lessons, students have only one chance to keep up with the requirements.
  • distraction – students get easily distracted in group classes

A face-to-face meeting in a classroom imposes accountability, inspires effort and promotes academic responsibility in subtle ways that we don’t fully appreciate. On a campus, students attend class and stay alert because they worry what the teacher will think if they don’t.

~ Adam D. Chandler; Learning in Classroom Versus Online

Online

Online teaching workspace

Photo by athlwulf via Flickr

An online course is a distance learning course that is provided entirely through a digital learning management system. All assessments occur within the online platform. Students usually interact with their teachers and peers via classroom chats or forums.

It is namely the rising popularity of “massive open online courses” (MOOCs) that is disrupting traditional education and changing the way learning experiences are delivered, accessed and shared.

Advantages

  • convenience – you can manage the course from anywhere at any time. Your students can do their coursework at their own pace from the comfort of their home.
  • efficiency – you save both money and time on travelling and copying materials. Online courses also allow you to reach a wider audience without geographical limitations.

Disadvantages

  • self-discipline – online courses can be challenging it terms of time management and motivation, especially for students. It is difficult for the instructor to stimulate engagement and motivation of the class.
  • limited interaction  the common downsides of online education can be a lack of personal contact and limited student-teacher and student-student interaction. There is a higher potential for miscommunication and misunderstanding.

Good courses, whether on campus or online, are engaging and foster active learning communities. In the best online courses, learners connect, collaborate, inspire, discover and create through myriad technologies.

~ Sara Hill; Learning in Classroom Versus Online

Blended

A blended or hybrid course is a combination of the two methods outlined above. A portion of a course is delivered online and a portion is delivered on-site face-to-face.

Blended Learning

Photo by Cooperating School Districts of STL via Flickr

Advantages 

  • variability – using a variety of online and in-class teaching strategies make it possible to achieve learning objectives more effectively
  • the best of both – a good blended course can take advantage of the pros of both traditional and online education. It allows for class interaction as well as interactive and independent learning activities that are not possible in traditional courses.

Disadvantages

  • challenge – teaching a blended course can be quite challenging. You have to manage content for both online and in-class and prepare students to work in a hybrid format.

Another popular way of teaching is via Skype where student and teacher interact almost face-to-face using video calls. This method allows you to broaden you reach and has similar characteristics to traditional one-on-one education. Many instructors also use Google Hangouts for their classes as it provides them with additional tools that can improve students’ learning experience.

There is no good or bad delivery method of your classes. It ultimately depends on your discipline and your personal preference in terms of how you want to manage your courses.

How do you deliver your classes? What are the challenges you are facing? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share your comments below.

Did you like our post? Next week, we will cover how to set your tutoring rates. Keep in touch for more updates and great links:

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How to Kick-Start Your Teaching Business: Part 4. Lesson Policy

VivianaProtecting your teaching business is as important as building it. Sooner or later you will have to deal with students cancelling classes or paying late. This can have a negative effect on your business growth and can quickly zap you of enthusiasm. Be one step ahead and create a Lesson Policy Agreement to establish the rules. It is crucial to create and maintain a teacher-student relationship in order for the lessons to be successful.

Every tutor, studio or school will have different conditions under which the operate. At the same time, there are some common areas that should be included in every lesson policy. It is always better to have things spelled out in a written document to form a partnership where everyone knows their roles and responsibilities. Your lesson policy should be fair to both parties to protect you as well as the student.

This information is meant to serve as guide only. You should always seek the advice of a professional  before acting on it.

Roles and Responsibilities

Rules for the teacher

Image by mick62 via Flickr

What is your responsibility as a teacher and what do you commit to? In this section you can outline your teaching style and your role as a teacher in terms of motivation and encouragement of your students; as well as your commitment to creating a stimulating and friendly atmosphere.

What do you expect from your students and what are their responsibilities towards you and your lessons? Perhaps you can specify how often you expect them to practice, state whether you will require them to complete their weekly assignments, or explain that it is their responsibility to show up on time.

These points may sound like a common sense but it is always good to lay down the ground rules to articulate a set of expected behaviors for everyone.

Attendance

It’s a common practice to require certain attendance rate for your course, namely if you provide some kind of certificate at the end of the term. Students are usually required to miss no more than 20 – 25% of the classes. This can be an important information for some people as they might need a course completion certificate for their employer or school.

Cancellations and Reschedules

Closely related to the attendance point is a question of cancellations and reschedules. From talking to many freelancing tutors and teachers, I understand this is one of the main issues they have to deal with and that continuously frustrates them. Even though you put your conditions down on paper, people will try and negotiate with you later and request make-up lessons when they are not, according to your policy, entitled to them. It’s ultimately at your discretion how strictly you will stick to the rules, but you need to be prepared for these situations.

Schedule

Image by theogeo

What you should consider when creating your cancellation policy:

  • How much notice will you require for reschedule?
  • Will you allow exceptions to this requirement, e.g. illness, family emergency?
  • Who will determine the time of make-up lessons?
  • Will you allow reschedules of make-ups?
  • How do you want to be notified of scheduling issues and cancellations?
  • Will you issue credits for cancelled classes?
  • What is the notice period required for termination of the course?
  • Will you charge a fine for terminating the course before the end date?

I did some research around and it seems to be fairly common to ask for 24-48 hour notice for any schedule changes. Same day cancellations and no shows usually results in full lesson fee being forfeited with no rescheduling available. In most cases, make-up lessons are solely based on teacher’s availability and cannot be rescheduled again. I also came across a teacher who has a make-up lesson week at the end of each semester for all students who missed a lesson, which I thought was a great way to deal with this issue. It is a common practice not to issue credits for cancelled classes, unless cancelled by the teacher. Some teachers reserve the right to terminate the contract after two unexcused absences, some charge a fine if the student terminates the course early. The conditions differ from business to business.

It might be a good idea to include all days with no lessons held in your policy, e.g. public holidays or school holidays. Do your lessons follow the local school calendar? Are they weather dependent?  If so, indicate what will happen in the case of bad weather.

Read more about make-up lessons:

Payment

Money

Image by martinhoward via Flickr

This is obviously one of the most important parts of your lesson policy as it determines how you will get paid for your teaching services. You have to determine how much you will charge for you classes and what are the conditions of any discount you may offer. Specify how and when you want to be paid. Do you want your students to pay on a monthly basis or do you require them to pay the entire course upon enrollment? Will you accept late payments? How are you going to deal with consistently overdue accounts? These are some thought starters for you to consider. In any case, you might want to seek the advice of an accountant and/or a lawyer to determine the best terms and conditions for your business.

Teacher Absence and Refunds

As mentioned earlier, you need to decide under which conditions you will issue refunds for cancelled classes. It is recommendable that you, as a business, offer compensation for services you could not provide; for any reason. In the event of absence from your part, you might want to offer make-up lessons based on the student’s availability. If you don’t find a suitable time, issuing them a credit is probably the best solution.

Some more questions to think about: How much notice will you have to let them know of your absence? What happen in case you need to terminate the entire course due to unforeseen circumstances?

Tardiness

Time Flies

Image by Alan Cleaver via Flickr

How long are you willing to wait for your students? Again, it’s ultimately up to you, but you it’s a good idea to include this in you lesson policy so they are not surprised next time they arrive twenty minutes late and you’re gone. To play fair, you should apply the same time limit to yourself and offer them a make-up class or a refund if you are significantly late. Having said that, you want to aim at not being late under any circumstances! It is your prime responsibility to be on time and prepared for each lesson.

What Is Included

What is covered in the tuition and what is not? Do you provide your students with any study materials as part of the course? Are your travel expenses included in the fee? Are students expected to bring any specific books, tools and equipment? This will obviously depend of what you teach and where. Just make sure everyone knows exactly what they’re paying for, so there is no surprises later.

I hope by now you are ready to create your own Lesson Policy Agreement. Do you have any other tips I didn’t include in the post? I’d love to know them, so please share them with us in the comments section.

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How to Kick-Start Your Teaching Business: Part 2. Gain Recognition

VivianaStarting your own teaching business is a highly rewarding experience. At the same time, it requires a great amount of hard work, patience, focus and responsibility. Last week we talked about how to get the right skills to become tutor or a private teacher. Today, we will cover how you can get recognition for those skills and how to best manage your online reputation.

Get Visible

If you cannot be found, you don’t exist. You need to get visible so that your potential students can find your business. To start with, you have to think about your brand. Are you going to use your own name or are you planning to use a business name? It all goes back to what image you want to project and what your personal and business goals are.

Visible Light

Image by sweethaa via Flickr

Personal Name vs. Business Name

Using your personal name is obviously the easiest option. In Australia, you won’t need to register a business name if you use your individual name. Don’t forget you will still need ABN (Australian Business Number) for tax purposes!

From a branding perspective, your personal name suggest you are a freelancer running your business by yourself. This can be an advantage as some people might prefer individual tutors with a personal touch over more anonymous private schools. On the other hand, this may become a problem when you decide to scale your business and hire other teachers and can become a real hurdle if you decide to sell your business one day. In some cases, using your personal name can be seen as less professional and less credible.

Using a business name for your brand can allow you to communicate your Unique Selling Proposition in the name and combine it with a logo that represents your values as a business. Choosing the right company name is extremely important for your business and can have a critical impact on your future success.

Read more: 8 Mistakes To Avoid When Naming Your Business

When you decide on your name, you need to register it with ASIC, or a respective organisation in your country. Your name has to be unique in your state or country and cannot be already registered by someone else.

Now that you decided on your name, it might be a good idea to buy a domain name to represent your company online. Even if you do not plan to go online straight away, you don’t want to risk someone else buying your desired domain name. It’s a negligible cost that can save you a lot of trouble in the future.

Read more: 12 Rules for Choosing the Right Domain Name

Build Trust

Trust

Image by mikebaird via Flickr

So now you have a business name and you’re officially in the business. That’s a good start, but to be honest, it really is just a start. You will need to work hard on convincing your first customers that you are the professional, knowledgeable and reliable tutor or trainer you claim to be.

How do you do that? Try to get testimonials from your past and existing students. If you are completely new to teaching or tutoring and are starting from scratch, it might help yo ask your trainer, teacher or employer for a reference to highlight your qualities as an educator. These referrals not only build trust for your business, but also establish respect among your peers.

People Google literally everything nowadays. Even if you do not have the resources to build a website or do not want to make such a big commitment yet, you can set up a free WordPress site where you present your bio, showcase student testimonials and list any qualifications or awards you might have gained.

If you are from Australia or New Zealand, you can set up your teacher profile on Knowinger, our new education marketplace, and start offering your classes and building your reputation via our platform. It is completely free to create a course and acquire new students!

If the online world is not your thing, you can build your reputation through publishing articles in the local press or speaking (or at least participating) at conferences and events attended by your target market. Performing is another great way of acquiring new students and building your brand, if you happen to be a musician or a dancer. If you make art, you can use your products to showcase your skills and start building your reputation through your existing customers.

There are many different ways you can build trust for your teaching business, depending on your discipline. In general, one of the most powerful drivers of growth for small businesses is word-of-mouth. It can take some time to build your client base, but if you provide them with an excellent customer service and great product, they will not only come back but will tell their friends about you.

We will be covering some smart and affordable marketing tactics in one of our future parts of the series, so stay tuned 🙂

Become a Thought Leader

Another step in gaining recognition is to become a thought leader or an authority in your field. As you can imagine, this is not a quick win. It is a rather lengthy process you need to invest a lot of time and effort into. If you do it well though, it can lead to a great revenue growth.

Thought Leader

Image by kalidoskopika via Flickr

Probably the best way to begin your journey is to start a blog. Your blog should be closely related to your teaching business, but the tone of voice and overall appearance will highly depend on your target audience. You would  probably choose a different voice targeting moms whose little girls attend your dancing classes, or writing for young professional who might be interested in your copy-writing course.

Read more: 30 Quick Content Marketing Tips Every Marketer Needs to Know

Leadership is a Journey

Image by Hamed Saber via Flickr

The next step on your way to become a respected expert in your field would be to publish a book. As difficult and expensive it might seem, there are many online tools you can use to self-publish an ebook.

Guest posting is another great way to gain reputation. Try and pitch your article to a well-known online publisher covering your discipline. You never know, you might get lucky!

Speaking at conferences, hosting podcasts, or creating online videos are another widely used tools that will help you make the cut. Participate in online discussions and forums and offer your expertise to others. Be creative, consistent and provide your audience with a quality content! 

It goes without saying that to be a true expert in anything, you need to immerse yourself in professional development. Reading, networking with your colleagues and attending webinars and conferences will help you keep up to date with new developments in your area of expertise.

Manage Your Reputation

Your reputation is everything! As a small business or an entrepreneur, you want to make sure that people talk about you in a positive way. You cannot afford unhappy customers and negative reviews. That can be detrimental to your business, especially at the beginning.

Where do you hide a dead body? On the third page of Google results.

You can’t really control what people say about you, but your can to some extend manage your reputation online. Start with searching your name on Google and include search in Google Images. Have you found anything that can potentially damage your professional image? You can either remove the content by yourself, if it was created by you, or hire an online reputation management agency who can help you bury the unwanted information. You should set up Google Alerts to monitor any mentions of your brand name on the internet.

As more and more students use reviews to make their decision, your online reputation is extremely important for your business. If you happen to get a bad review for your classes, respond to it and offer your side of the story. Do not take criticism personally and try to avoid responding emotionally.

Pay close attention to what people say about your competitors. You can use the information to fill in the gaps people are looking for and to gain a competitive advantage.

Make sure you use your existing social media channels wisely. Keep private things private. It might be a good idea to set up a separate Facebook and Twitter profiles for your teaching business, even if you are just a freelancer using your own name. The rule of thumb is: Do not share anything you don’t want your students to see or read. You never know when or where it can appear. Fine tune your Facebook’s privacy settings to reflect how you want to use your Facebook profile from a professional perspective. Maybe you want to use it as a channel to get your name out there and establish yourself as a trusted authority. In that case, you want all the information you share to be public. Or perhaps you want to keep your Facebook profile for private conversations only and would prefer to hide your posts from anyone but your friends. Either way, make sure to personalize your privacy settings.

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Now you know what skills you need to start teaching and how to gain recognition for your knowledge and qualifications. Next week, we will talk about how to create a business plan for your new entrepreneurial endeavor.

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How to Kick-Start Your Teaching Business: Part 1. Get the Right Skills

VivianaBecoming a tutor, private teacher or a personal trainer can bring you a lot of joy. Making a difference by helping somebody grow and learn is one of the greatest rewards. In our series “How to Kick-Start Your Teaching Business”, we will show you how to take your passion for sharing your knowledge and experience to the next level and establish a successful and rewarding business you’ll be proud of.

Aristotle Quote

Naturally, the first step towards becoming a tutor or a private teacher is to identify your expertise. You probably already know what it is that you would like to teach, but it is always a good idea to do a bit of research and find your niche within or around your favorite discipline. Maybe you find out there is a high demand for your subject in a certain age group or that people are interested in a specific area that is not easily available in your town. Try and narrow your expertise down to something more specific and start growing your student base incrementally.

Now that you know what exactly it is you want to teach, you should start thinking about the skills you need to do the job well. There are two different set of skills needed for any career; technical and soft skills.

Technical skills you will need

Although there are generally no formal requirements to become a tutor or a private teacher, it is a good idea to acquire some sort of professional qualification in the subject or discipline you want to teach. This will depend on who your prospect students are and what their level of knowledge is. For example, if you are considering being an online tutor, you may want to consider an instructional technology degree in order to provide the best possible online classroom environment for your students.

Spanish Tutoring

Photo by Tulane Public Relations via Flickr

It is probably fine to have just HSC in mathematics if you are a university student who is planning to offer primary school maths tuition. On the contrary, to become a personal trainer you will be required to have a certificate in fitness and a first aid certificate.

You can find more information about the qualifications required and trainings available by visiting a website of a particular association, depending on your field of expertise:

If you are planning to work with children, you will need to obtain the Working with Children Check. “Pre-employment screening of adults and Volunteers who come in contact with children is mandatory and legislated for across most states and territories in Australia. However there is no national framework setting out the requirements for obtaining a Working With Children Check (or Police Checks) – and each state and territory has their own procedures and requirements.

Soft skills that make a good teacher or tutor

Apart from getting the necessary credentials, you need to think about the soft skills and qualities you should posses to become a good teacher. It requires a great amount of hard work to create a challenging and nurturing environment for your students. To some extent, your attitude towards your students and the subject can be more important than the skills and knowledge you have.

1. Enthusiasm and Positive Attitude

As already mentioned, your attitude is everything. You should be approachable to your students as well as your potential colleagues. A great teacher has an engaging personality and manages to hold attention of their students.

Teacher talking to students

Image by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

Smile! It is an important means for building and establishing rapport. Smile is the easiest thing you can do to put your students into ease.

Learn more about how you can motivate your students.

2. Communication Skills

It goes without saying that a good teacher needs to be a good communicator. Sometimes, you will have to present complex topics in a way that is easy to understand. Other times, you will have to use metaphors and come up with examples to explain an issue that is foreign to your students.

You should also be, in some cases, prepared to maintain open communication with parents and make yourself available to them.

3. Listening Skills

Although it may seem that teachers spend most of their time in class talking, they actually have to be good listeners too.

“Good listening skills are needed to develop empathy and understanding with the students and to assess whether they understand what they are being taught. Listening skills also help in negotiating with students and defusing any potential classroom conflicts.”
(Source: ACS Distance Education)

Listen

Image by ky_olsen via Flickr

Active listening skills are also important when it comes to better understanding your students’ needs and discovering what their strengths and weaknesses are. Simply, mastering your listening skills will help you become a better leader and educator!

4. Being Passionate about the Subject

It may seem obvious but is needed to mention that a great teacher has a deep knowledge and is enthusiastic about the subject they are teaching. A good instructor or tutor always stays up to date with the latest trends and developments in their field; they spend a significant amount of their time studying themselves!

Teachers must be ready to answer or research their students’ questions and act as a subject matter experts in their field. This would be hard if you don’t love what you teach, don’t you think?

5. Organisation and Time-management Skills

If you become a private instructor or teacher, you will most likely spend a lot of time planning your lessons as well as organising your schedule. It is possible you will be travelling between individual classes with a tight timeline to get from one place to another. Good planning can save you a lot of travelling time!

You need to be very organised and possess strong planning skills to make sure you are always on time, well prepared and that you always deliver high quality lessons. Your organisation and planning skills will have a significant effect on the learning experience of your students.

Time Flies

Image by Alan Cleaver via Flickr

You may be surprised how much administration work is involved in teaching in general, so be ready to spend some time behind your computer managing your small business.

6. Friendly Personality

It is important that you have a friendly personality and are able to develop a cherished bond with your students. They will be motivated and will work harder in a friendly atmosphere. Try to encourage open discussions and make your students feel at home. You should enjoy working with people or children and be excited about helping your students out.

At the same time, you still need to maintain a professional approach. You need to combine both the guidance of a teacher and the understanding of a friend.

7. Patience

Teacher in classroom

Image by black vanilla via Flickr

Patience is a virtue! This skills may easily be the most important quality of a good teacher. You will have students who need more time to understand a certain topic and sometimes you will need to repeat yourself quite a few times. Extensive knowledge of the subject you teach does not guarantee that your students will comprehend it. Your patience with them, on the other hand, will certainly help them in the learning process and may stimulate their interest in the subject. It is your job to appreciate their individual personality and their unique strengths and weaknesses.

I am convinced it is the combination of both technical and soft skills that makes a great teacher. I’ d love to hear your thoughts on what skills and qualities are essential for a good teacher to have! 

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We will continue in our series “How to Kick-Start Your Teaching Business” next week with tips on how to gain recognition and build your brand.

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7 Simple Tips to Get the Best Out of Your Students

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The quality of teaching has an enormous influence on students. It affects their achievements as well as their engagement in the learning process. But more importantly, it influences how they perceive themselves as learners.

Educational Quote

There are many different methods and teaching strategies designed to motivate your class for better results. While guidelines and methodology definitely help, it is you, the teacher, who faces the ultimate challenge of making sure every one of your students learn as much as they possibly can.

Below is a list of 7 simple things every teacher or tutor, whether teaching group courses or individual lessons, can start doing today to get more out of their students:

1. Get to know your student(s)

Understand how your students learn and try to accommodate your teaching method to their learning style. There are three basic learning styles based on how people learn and process information. There is no right or wrong way to learn and these styles have nothing to do with intelligence, they just show different ways we prefer to receive new information.

3 Basic Learning Styles

It is important to understand the difference between the different styles so you can help your students learn in the ways most conducive to them. You can always ask them to take a quick quiz to find out what their learning style is so you don’t have to guess.

Now that you know the best way to present them information, you should spend some time and effort to get to know them personally and build connections with your students.

Be personal! This is certainly easier if you teach an individual course. But even if you have a big class, there are fun and engaging ways how to get to know each other better.

2. Set high expectations

You should hold all your students to high expectations and expect them to reach those high standards.

“If teachers demand high expectations from their students and engage them in tasks that interest and involve them, they will promote self-esteem and build students’ confidence and academic performance.” (Brophy, 2008, 2010)

It is also worth mentioning how important it is to articulate clear goals. Students should be absolutely clear on what they will learn in your class and what they will be expected to do with the acquired skills or knowledge.

Don’t forget to set the same high standards for yourself! You cannot expect them to deliver the best results unless you strive to do the same. In another words, you have to be motivated to keep them motivated! A great way to set high expectations for your practice is through professional learning and peer collaboration.

3. Be flexible

Everyone is unique. Some learners need more attention than others, some methods might not work in a particular environment. Go with the flow and be ready for change. This is not to say you should freestyle your teaching. You should always have a clear plan on what you want to cover in your class, but you might have different options how to get there. This is especially important if you’re using technology in your class. We’ve all been to lessons where the instructor spent half of the time fiddling with remote controls trying to make their presentation work. It is extremely frustrating for both sides and defies the purpose of technology in education. You should always have a plan B for these situations, even if you test everything before the actual class.

Don’t just try and stick to your plan if you can’t see the expected results. Combine different methods and strategies and keep testing them. Observe closely how your students respond and define the best approaches for each individual or a particular class.

Avoid the temptation of mass production! There is no “one size fits all” in education.

One size does not fit all

Image by Micky.! via Flickr

Recognize uniqueness of individual learners and create tasks appropriate to their level and style of learning as well as their personal interests.

4. Believe in them

Look beyond your students’ imperfections and problems and try to see their potential.

If you’re always reminded of what you cannot do or what you can’t accomplish, you will never start to believe in yourself. You need other people’s support to gain confidence. And you need confidence and motivation to tackle on challenging learning tasks.

See your students' potential

Image by Martika G via Flickr

You have to make them believe they can succeed or they will never do. Challenge them. Encourage them. You must help them to focus on their strengths until they start believe in them for themselves. Help them focus on the possibilities and coach them through the potholes along the path. You will be surprised how important it can be for some of you students to know you believe in them

5. Reward them

Most of us seek some kind of recognition for our efforts. By rewarding your students I don’t mean giving them anything in particular or granting them access to privileges that other students don’t get. That implies paying them for their efforts. They don’t need to be paid if you truly believe in them. Also, rewarding only the good students can be demoralizing for the rest of the class.

“Feedback, on the other hand, is about supporting the student in the process of moving toward the goal and closing that gap between where she is now and where she needs to be. ”
Source: http://www.teachandlearn.ca

You should start by setting clear goals for the students so they know what they are working towards. You then monitor their progress and identify the best time to give them personal feedback. You should assess their results on an individual level. Excellent students most likely do not need to be rewarded as they have enough motivation and confidence to continue working hard.

On the other hand, students who struggle with the material need your kind words more than anyone. Focus on their efforts and reward them for working hard. Encourage their hope by letting them know they can always do better. Give them another chance to demonstrate they can do it.

6. Smile

Your smile is essential in the quest to reach your students. Smile creates a positive atmosphere where people feel comfortable asking questions and expressing themselves. It is an important means for building and establishing rapport. Smile is the easiest thing you can do to put your students into ease.

Keep smiling

Image by rkramer62 via Flickr

When you smile, your mood automatically brightens up which naturally affects people around you. An intriguing UC Berkeley research, that examined smiles of students in an old yearbook, has recently shown that those with the widest smiles were generally happier in their later lives and had more fulfilling marriages. That is just another proof that smile is a powerful means of communication. It is naturally contagious. We are naturally driven to smile when we see someone else, even a stranger, smiling.

Talking about smile, humor can be a great way to engage students and activate learning. Beyond the fun factor, it brightens enthusiasm and creates more positive environment. You don’t have to try to be funny at all times, just do what’s comfortable for you. You will quickly see the ease and optimism spreading through your classroom.

7. Be a Role Model

Although it goes without saying teachers should serve as desirable models to their students, we cannot leave this one out.

A role model is a person who inspires and encourages us to strive for greatness, live to our fullest potential and see the best in ourselves. A role model is someone we admire and someone we aspire to be like. We learn through them, through their commitment to excellence and through their ability to make us realize our own personal growth. We look to them for advice and guidance.
Source: http://teach.com/teachers-as-role-models

So what are the characteristics of a teacher as a role model? They model positive choice-making by putting the best choices into action. They apologize and admit mistakes; nobody is perfect at the end of the day. As a role model, you show respect to others and follow through in the same way you want your students to follow their commitments. Great role models are well rounded individuals who are proud of who they are.

As a student, I was always working harder for the teachers who proved to be caring and nurturing as I felt my results mattered to them. I simply wanted to show them I could do it; that I deserved their support. Those are the teachers who motivated me and which I still remember. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of them.

There are probably some other ways you can motivate your students and get the best out of them. What are your favorite tips? I’d love your insights on this.

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