Marketing for Teachers: How to Sell Out Your Courses

VivianaYou think marketing isn’t for you? Think about it this way: If you don’t fill up your classes, you don’t maximize all the work you put into the preparation and planning of your course. It’s like blogging. Writing a great content will only get you so far. You need to actively spread your content to reach out to those who are interested in it, but don’t know you exist…YET!

We want to see fruition of your efforts to create your courses. That’s why we put together some tips and resources to set you off on your way:

1. Know your customer

The first step in any marketing activity is to understand your audience. To whom should you market and how do you most efficiently reach them?

What you should know about the students who are most likely to purchase your services:

  • age
  • gender
  • location
  • socioeconomic status
  • demographic or physiographic traits
Asian family shopping

Image by epSos.de via Flickr

Are you teaching kids or adults? Does your discipline skew towards one gender? It is always a good idea to start marketing your teaching services in the nearby vicinity, and then branching out as the word about how great your classes are spreads. Price is another important factor that will determine your target audience. Some people prefer highly experienced tutor and are gladly willing to pay higher hourly rate. Others look for the cheapest private teacher on the market and are willing to sacrifice the quality.

It is always a good idea to do a bit of research and find your niche within or around your 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.

2. Reach your audience

Now that you determined your target demographic, you need to research how to best reach them. You have a myriad of options when it comes to marketing your business. The critical part is to choose the most effective mediums. Are you willing to pay for advertising or are you going to rely on free media? Are you going to promote your courses in the real world, online or both?

Audience at concert

Image by Nomadic Lass via Flickr

How to determine the best method

This is why understanding your audience is so important. You want to be wherever they are! If you provide educational services for kids, you want to appear wherever their parents are. If you target the younger crowd, you will probably be using social media channels to promote your classes. Or you might want to hold an event to showcase your handicraft skills where  your potential students can learn some basics and get interested in your craft.

It is OK to experiment and try different methods. Testing is one of the vital parts of any successful marketing strategy execution. Make sure you measure the results of each activity so that you can easily determine the most effective one!

No matter how you plan to promote your services, there are some universally proven tactics that will help you sell out your courses:

Start marketing well in advance

Time

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Whatever method or channel you choose, allow time to spread your message. Especially if you are new in the business or you just launched a new course. Start marketing your classes 3-6 months in advance. The marketing cycle takes longer than you think. You can start blogging about topics related to your course and start collecting email addresses of your followers.

You can hold events and ask people to give you their phone numbers to get notified when you launch the course. There are many ways you can spread the word about your services and collect contact details of those interested in them. You just need to start early enough. Don’t get disappointed if your first course doesn’t sell out. You have to build your reputation over time!

Offer discounts and freebies 

Sale

Image by by IvanWalsh.com via Flickr

Everyone loves deals! No matter what your opinion is on offers and discounts, they work. If your offer is good enough, people just won’t say NO. There is a trap though. By giving everyone a discount, you lose money on the customers who would otherwise be willing to pay the full price.

Be smart about your offers. Create online custom codes and share then only with your followers. Print special flyers that you only distribute in certain cafes. You can create custom codes with different offers according to who you’re targeting. Again, experiment with what works the best and roll out the most effective method.

Give the first lesson for free. Or offer the entire course for a reduced rate in exchange for a review or a blog post. This way you can build your reputation faster and gain the very much needed credibility.

Provide a money-back guarantee

Guaranteed

Image by missfitzphotos via Flickr

Guarantees help build trust. People are more comfortable buying your service if they see that you offer a satisfaction guarantee. Although most of them will never ask for their money back, it creates a sense of confidence in them.

You will probably have to see whether a free first lesson or a money back guarantee work better for you. Neil Patel provides a comprehensive case study of the two tactics in this article. Try both, measure the results, and decide which alternative is the best for your business!

A standard 30-day money back guarantee can make the difference between someone enrolling into your class or not. Your course cannot be possibly suitable for anyone so do not take it personally if people do ask for their money back. You should rather try to use this as an opportunity to receive an honest feedback.

How do you sell out your courses? Do you have a proven method? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Next week, we will explain some effective online marketing tactics for your teaching business.

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How to Set Your Tutoring Rate (Part 6)

VivianaThe pricing decision is a crucial one when starting your tutoring or private teaching business. I highly recommend doing a bit of market research as there is an enormous range in the prices in this market. You need to find the RIGHT rate for YOUR services; you don’t want to sell yourself short, but you still need enough students to pay your bills.

How do you determine the right lessons fee for your teaching business?

1. Do Your Own Research

Start with looking around to see what other teachers or tutors charge for their classes. Call teachers offering similar classes and ask for their rates. There are a lot of online forums out there where you can ask other teachers about their fees. Another option is to check Craiglist or Gumtree to see what what is the average rate in your area.

Money

Image by Aaron Patterson via Flickr

TIP: Do not charge less than your competition! Why? First, it sends a signal that you are an amateur without experience. There are people out there who are willing to pay a premium for a reputable teacher. Second, it is always easier to lower your price if you’re not able to attract students at that rate.

2. Consider Your Location 

World Map

Image by Nina Matthews Photography via Flickr

Your location is one of the most important aspects to determine your tutoring rate. In general, prices are higher in big urban areas than in rural regions. You should also take into account your local economy. What does a term of music lessons or dance classes cost? This should give you a rough idea of how much are people willing to pay for extracurricular activities in your area.

3. Evaluate Your Experience

Do you have more or less experience than other tutors who offer comparable classes? Do you have special skills that are currently in high demand? Have you received any awards for your work or do you have extensive performance experience? Naturally, the more experience you have, the more you can charge for your lessons. Have a good think about what sets you apart and what you can offer to your students.

4. Consider Your Educational Background

College Degree

Image by nyuhuhuu via Flickr

What is your highest degree of education? Someone with a PhD can usually charge a lot more than someone with a BA. Do you have a pedagogical background or did you do some kind of a teacher training? Do you have the necessary qualifications to work with children in your country?

As a rule of thumb, any credentials you can show to your prospective students can help. Some parents might place quite a lot of importance on degrees and prefer to pay more for a well educated and experienced tutor or private teacher.

5. Define Your Target Market

Are you targeting higher income individuals or poorer families?  Why do your students attend your classes? Do they need a certificate at the end of the course? Another important factor is the size of the group – Are you offering individual, small group or large group classes?

6. Think About the Nature of Your Subject

Some disciplines require a significant time for preparation while others are not as time-consuming. Do you need to spend a lot of time studying and improving your skills yourself? Are the study materials expensive? Does your subject require a special qualification which is hard to obtain? If you are teaching common subjects such as English or Maths, you normally cannot charge as much for your classes as someone offering specialized IT training.

7. Factor the Distance you Have to Travel

If you offer private lessons at your students’ home, you are likely to spend many hours travelling. Don’t forget to factor this time to your rates as you would otherwise sell yourself short and end up being frustrated with how much you get paid per hour. On the other hand, if you teach at a particular location, this factor is probably irrelevant for you as you have one base for all your classes.

At the end of the day, the amount you can charge for your services depend on the students’ willingness to pay. It’s all about supply and demand and you need to find your sweet spot. Charge everyone exactly the same fee. You don’t want people to find out that someone else is paying less for your classes.

Do you have any other tips on how to determine a lessons fee? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share your comments below.

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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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Why Education Is a Constant Struggle in the Developing World

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“Education is one of the most powerful instruments for reducing poverty and inequality and lays a foundation for sustained economic growth.” ~ The World Bank

Although the importance of education for sustainable development has been widely recognized, the statistics in developing countries are still quite disappointing. Schools struggle to equip kids with practical skills and prepare them for the reality of their lives. In many cases, children are not able to comprehend a simple paragraph after five years of schooling. It is quite obvious education in the developing world needs to be redefined to have a better impact on poverty alleviation. What are the main challenges the education sector is facing in the poor regions and what can be done to improve the situation? As you can imagine, the problems and possible solutions are quite country and region specific. However, there are some common issues the countries are facing today.

Girl in a classroom

Image by One Laptop per Child via Flickr

High dropout rates With global enrolment in primary education increasing (source: The World Bank) over the past decade, other challenges to education have arisen. Among those, the high dropout rates in developing countries are quite alarming. In Cambodia, for example, 45% of kids leave school prior to completion. (source: UN) There is many reasons why these kids don’t complete even primary education, most of them economic. The costs of transportation to school, uniforms, books and other school-related expenditures often represent more than what the rural families in poor regions can afford. Another, less obvious, economic barrier is the opportunity cost of the kid not working while at school. There are about 215 million child labourers in today’s world (source:UN). Most of them work in agriculture helping on a family farm or selling in the market. Naturally, many of these kids have low attendance, don’t complete primary education or never even go to school in the first place.

Primary school net enrolment/attendance ratio (2000–2006):

Moving to a higher level of education Secondary education is another great challenge developing countries face. With more students completing primary school (despite the high dropout rates, the net numbers are increasing quite steadily) each year, the demand for secondary education is ever growing. Unfortunately, many of those who want to move to a higher level of education are left our of secondary school due to a lack of schools in their region. Global Education Digest 2011 warns that In sub-Saharan Africa (where the situation is worst), there are only enough places for one third of secondary school age children. Expansion of secondary education is a crucial premise to eradication of poverty. With the current focus of development aid on primary education, a strategic shift is needed to plug current funding gaps.

Irrelevant curricula

Schools in developing countries mostly adopt Western curriculum model with an emphasis on math, science, language, and social studies. While topics like European history or Periodic Table of the Elements might be interesting and intellectually stimulating, they have barely any relevance to to  the daily lives of children in poor regions.

Working child

Image by bookage via Flickr

The children are most likely to work in a family business, on a farm, or set up their own little business in the future. The current curricula don’t develop their financial literacy or project management skills to successfully manage their future small enterprises. They need practical life skills, such as problem-solving or administrative abilities, to succeed in the environment they live in. Health education can have an enormous impact on economic stability of some regions, namely those  where life expectancy is very low. Even though countries are being devastated by manageable diseases such as malaria or HIV, schooling doesn’t generally cover topics like basic health behavior of safe sex.

Gender inequalities

The notorious gender gap in education seems to widen with a higher level of education. “While there are 70 girls for every 100 boys who complete primary school in Kenya, for example, that ratio drops to 48 girls for every 100 boys for lower secondary, and just 37 girls for every 100 boys for upper secondary” states The Guardian. 60% of those without access to education are girls. See the interactive map of The Changing Gender Gap here. The inequality is significantly higher in those societies where the gender roles are reinforced by religion, tradition or law. The regions with the highest gender gap in education are Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Girls Classrom

Image by globalhealthcsis via Flickr

Finance & Operations It is a well known and obvious fact that schools in the developing world are running on extremely tight budgets with no possibility to invest in technology or staff training. As a result, there is an insufficient school network namely in rural areas, making it even harder for some kids to physically get to schools. Many teachers are either not qualified for the job or do not have access to professional training. Also, high staff turnover is a common factor. Schools generally face problems such as poor governance, inefficient use of external funding and lack of organisation and leadership skills. Many schools are poorly equipped with no access to textbooks or other teaching materials.

Quality and context

High students numbers not only represent one of the many challenges for teachers in these areas, but also contribute to a generally low quality of education and poor learning outcomes of the students. Combined with the above mentioned factors such as the lack of quality teachers and equipment, the schools have little possibilities to raise quality of the lectures. As a result, many parents see schooling as a waist of time for their children and refuse to send them to schools. It is common that schools fail to reflect cultural and regional factors in their curricula. In many cases, schooling reinforces gender inequities, discrimination and racism; especially in the more traditional regions.

MDGs Infographics

Source: UN

Educate every kid on this planet is an exceptional challenge. At the same time, it is one of the most important things we should strive for. Fortunately, the ambition to achieve universal primary education has become one of The eight Millennium Development Goals The United Nations aim to fulfill by 2015. And although it is just one part of the puzzle, it is a step in the right direction.

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Ups and Downs of a European Teacher Entepreneur in Brazil

Have you ever dreamt of teaching abroad? Are you considering starting your teaching business or even opening your own language school? Veronika, a young Czech ESL teacher, did it all. In Brazil!

Veronika BaudysovaShe moved to Brazil straight after she graduated from college – Yes, there was a boy! – and  opened her own language school Koala Idomas only a year after that.  As you can image, it hasn’t been an easy path. But she reached a comfortable stage of her business now when she doesn’t have to promote herself or actively seek new students. Instead, they come to her.

How did she become a successful teacher entrepreneur in Brazil and what challenges has she been facing?

Listen to her story to find out:

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Veronika’s school in Taubaté, Brazil:

Koala Idiomas Classroom

Koala Idiomas School

Koala Idiomas Kids Classroom

Do you have a personal experience with teaching in developing country? We’d love to hear your stories too!

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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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