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How to Teach (with Pictures) – wikiHow


Teaching well is an art rooted in practical, applied, behavioral sciences. There are definitely techniques that have been proven to work better than the typical “stand and deliver” lecture or presenting them with only linear or sequential information such as reading or listening to lecture. Pictures, maps and hands on efforts can teach several concepts simultaneously, instead of only receiving line after line to read or write. Successful teachers focus more on facilitating meaningful, expanded, multiple representations of information in learning experiences–and, all in all, that isn’t so difficult to learn how to do. Read on to learn basic steps for becoming a good teacher in common teaching situations–from analyzing student needs, developing and facilitating meaningful learning objectives for your lesson plans, to following through on the learning design and giving feedback, with appropriate assessments.


Identify Needs

  1. Identify crucial academic skills. These include reading and essential math skills used in many other subjects. Prioritize crucial lessons. Think about what skills your students will need to employ in order to make it through elementary and secondary school, be ready for higher education and progress onward throughout their lives. Think about the skills you use as an adult, such as good communication skills, including questioning and courageous speaking skills, and finding/looking up what you need to know. Plan and follow through on ways to build those skills in your students. These should be skills which students will need to function in various areas of life.
  2. Identify complementary, life-improving skills. Encourage not only following learned processes and procedures, but also to find ways to use initiative, self-expression within guidelines — without being unruly or disruptive. Once the crucial skills have been identified, consider complementary skills for happy, productive lives. Praise and place value on their using creative skills and problem solving, being opportunity makers and help them be providers of interesting questions and giving answers and information in class.[1]
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    • Give them crucial emotional outlets including participating at their age level in arts, music and expression as a creator and a performer, not only being a spectator.
  3. Identify emotional and social skills. It’s not just academic skills which make people more functional, self-actualizing human beings. Apply techniques in your classroom to help students develop self-confidence, overcome shyness/”stage fright” by many steps, building self-esteem one effort at a time, coping with stress and disappointment (not just taking the easy escape), learning to not be overly defensive. They need to learn to accept reality without embarrassment by encouraging their efforts and trying again, and not unfairly blaming others for difficulties. They need ways to interact, being inclusive of other students needs, and productive coordination with others.
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Set Goals

  1. Determine overall goals. Once you’ve identified the major skills which your students will need to succeed in life, determine some goals based on those skills.[2] If you have a bunch of kindergarteners who will eventually need to read, for example, you want them to know their alphabet, the basic sounds of some special letters, and also be able to recognize simple sight words (eventually you can get around to advanced ideas such as: c in cat sounds like “k” — “keh”, and an example of k might be “keep”. But c in ceiling sounds like “s” — “sss”, an exciting example of s might be “snake”/pronounce the “sssnake” and show them the “ssss” of a “hissing snake” — but do not mention it so soon as to confuse the idea of phonics).[3]
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  2. Set specific goals. Once you know what your general goals are for the class, think of specific goals which will serve to show you that those overall goals have been met. Have your kindergarteners from the previous step be able to read and write the alphabet forwards and backwards and read basic three letter words, for example.==
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  3. Outline how those goals will be reached. Now that you know what you want your students to be able to do, outline the smaller skills which be necessary to get them to those larger goals. These will be mini-goals and will serve as a road map. With the kindergarteners, an example of these mini-goals would be learning each individual letter, learning to identify compound sounds, and then learning how to string sounds together.
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Develop Lesson Plans

  1. Outline each course that you teach to achieve education goals; the school may require each teacher to have a course syllabus or similar document. Now that you have your educational roadmap, make a lesson plan which specifically lists how you will get them to each step in that road. Every skill that will need to be mastered in order to get them between those mini-goals will need to be planned and written down.[4]
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  2. Consider learning styles. When making your lesson plan, keep learning styles in mind. Every student learns differently and if you want your whole class to have equal opportunity for success, you will need to accommodate these. Plan to use sound, visuals, manipulatives, physical activity and the written materials along with your student centered lessons for facilitating, introducing, modeling, giving guided practice and periodic homework all for each subject, whenever possible.
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  3. Mix subject matter to build cross-curricular, multiple skills. If you are in an environment where you can interrelate subject matters, such as science and math or English and history, do some of that. This will help students understand how information is applied and is more related to the situations they will encounter in the real world.[5] Life is not broken up into class subjects, after all. Find ways that you can collaborate with other teachers to provide your students with engaging, integrative lessons.
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Engage Students

  1. Use visual aids and multiple representations of concepts. Introduce as many visual aids as possible into your lessons. This is not only for social studies, math, earth, physical, chemical, biological and social sciences. Social studies and many science related classes can use graphs, charts, maps, the globe, photos, movies and timelines — such is true for their history and government studies. Certainly, math can involve grouping, recognizing changing patterns in sequences of numbers, contextual clues and shapes, with mathematical modeling often including formulas, graphic representations, diagrams, charts, “mappings of data” by various kinds of graphs. Also, collecting, organizing and presenting data can show the student how data is used in all kinds of subjects. Such things will give students more concrete experience, non-linear, multiple forms of applications/uses of data, visualizations, images and examples of the things which you are discussing. Complex concepts are often difficult to imagine and having a chart, an image to work, a choice of techniques, or an understandable formula will help many students stay engaged with the material, rather than tuning out because they can’t follow a dry, linear discussion.[6]
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  2. Employ activities. Generally, it is better to never lecture for more than 15 minutes at a time. Besides reading, writing and written activities. You will want to often be getting your students active in the material and learning process. You can do this by having hands-on learning opportunities like learning activities (don’t call them games), peer-to-peer discussions, or question and answer time (where either you ask the questions or they do).
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  3. Engage everyone. How? Create a variety of ways to use questions and answer/discussion sessions. One basic is keeping all students “on-deck” in the batters circle, so anyone may be the next one “up to bat”. This will keep students from tuning out while others engage.[7]
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    • One method would be to keep a jar with student’s names written on a popsicle stick. Pull from the jar at random and the student will be required to either ask a pertinent question or answer one.
    • Wait for the answer. Count to four to remind yourself to wait, when you use open questions where anybody can volunteer to ask or answer them. Avoid giving in to the urge to jump in to answer your question or to finish their answer. Draw out important issues from them. Don’t to quickly rescue the student, allow them to answer deliberately, not freaking them out by pressure or showing how smart you are. You defeat their motivation if you have to wow them as a genius/expert.
    • Class wide actions such as getting quiet when asked, ready to go to lunch or putting away one/getting another kind of book and materials can be time to utilize a classroom scoreboard with positive and negative marks that can lead to a reward or penalty for the whole group.
  4. Relate material to the outside world.[8] Since the point of learning is to gain real-world skills, you will want to constantly relate the skills and information in your class to the student’s lives and things which will affect them in the future. Students should never question why they need to learn the material they are learning and if you can’t come up with a real-world example then maybe you shouldn’t be teaching it.
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    • Math skills should be related back to things like paying bills, getting a good mortgage, and future work tasks, such as: choices of fields such as futures involving more and more technologies, and of course inspire dreams of engineering and architecture, etc. English skills can be used to write stories, books, business reports, personal and business letters, resumes, cover letters or grant proposals. Science skills can be used to understand electrical motors, electronics, the solar system and universe, chemicals, fix clogged sinks or evaluate illnesses. History and social studies skills can be used to understand civilization, community and government, determine political values and voting decisions. Sociology skills can be used to help hypothetical family, future children, friends, or strangers.

Allow Independent Exploration

  1. Get your students outside. This isn’t just about getting them active or getting them out in the sun (although those are good things!). The point of going to school isn’t only to build skills for passing some test, it’s important to teach people how to adapt, grow and live better in the real world. Get them out of the classroom to put their skills to use such as collecting information, going to the library to do research. Get students to interview someone for information about a profession or skill.
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    • Take a science class to the beach to identify animals and plant life or geological features. Take an English class to an early-stage play rehearsal, so that they can see how dialogue choices and changes affect perception of events and characters. Take a history class to interview nursing home residents or a sociology class to interview prison inmates.
  2. Let them experiment. Allow for creative interpretations of assignments. Allow students to pose questions and follow other routes. Letting them guide their own learning will help them learn better and keep them interested in what they’re doing.
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    • For example, in a lab experiment about putting mice in mazes, if your student suddenly wonders what would happen, if mirrors were introduced into the maze, let them do that. An assignment does not have to be strictly adhered to in order for students to gain valuable knowledge from it.
  3. Encourage innovation. Success fosters/breeds success. Let your students make new designs and create things. Give them broad assignments with specific goals and let them come to their own method of reaching that goal. This will let them create a relevant learning design and personal method which is best suited to their style and interests, keeping them invested in the assignment and encouraging daily progress (which is success).
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    • For example, you can have an occasional English assignment where a student must write a certain number of words on a particular, broad topic. However, tell them that how those words are arranged and presented is entirely up to them. They can make a comic, write a song, write and do a stand-up routine, write an essay, make a poster or a presentation… anything that speaks to and engages them in their interests, being relevant.

Reinforce Learning

  1. Interact during independent study. While students are working on assignments in class or engaging in other methods of independent study in the classroom, you will want to go around the room and engage them about what they are doing. Ask how things are going. Don’t just ask what’s wrong, ask what they feel they are understanding really well too. Get more out of them than “I’m doing fine” or “Everything’s okay”. You can even ask them to explain what they are doing or what their understanding of the assignment is.
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  2. Discuss weak points. After an assignment, look at the overall performance of the class. Identify common problems or potentially common problems and discuss these. Talk about why the mistake is easy to make and how to identify the problem. Talk about how it’s fixed or a better approach. Understanding a problem beyond “this is wrong and this is right” will give students much stronger abilities to problem solve later.
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  3. Occasionally revisit old material. Don’t cover something at the beginning of the year and never talk about it again. Constantly tie new material to the skills established in previous lessons. This will solidify and reinforce the skills that a student has gained, much like learning a language requires study every day.
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    • For example, an English lesson on writing argumentative papers may want to draw on the skills learned earlier regarding narrative works by discussing how one can use stories within argumentative papers to make emotional appeals or how voice can affect a reader’s perception of information.

Assess Progress

  1. Construct well balanced tests. Have you ever had a test which was way too easy to fail or a final which was almost exclusively material covered in the last three days of class, rather than material covered over the whole semester? These experiences will help you understand why it’s important to balance your tests. Draw material as is appropriate for the significance of the test and weight it such that it will not make or break a student’s grade. Not everyone tests well.
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  2. Consider alternatives to standard tests. Standard tests can be a very inaccurate method of gauging student’s mastery of the material. Very intelligent, successful students can be terrible at taking tests and students who otherwise absorb material very poorly can be excellent test takers. Devise alternative methods which do not put so much pressure on students to succeed in very specific ways.[9]
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    • Consider educative evaluation, rather than auditive. Ask your students to devise a real world scenario in which they would use the skills they’ve learned and ask them to write a paper or prepare a presentation explaining how they would handle the situation. This reinforces their skills and gives them the opportunity to show that they not only understood the material itself but that they also understood the significance.
  3. Put a spin on presentations. Public speaking is an important skill, to be sure. However, not everyone learns this by being put on the spot. Work your students up to full-class presentations in order to not only evaluate the extent to which they’ve learned the material but also give them the ability to learn valuable public speaking skills. Once they’ve mastered these easier presentations, you can have full class presentations and see how they fare.
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    • You can have students give a presentation, individually, to just you, one by one while others are working on a written assignment that they can do without much help other than an introduction and example. This presentation can be conducted like an interview. Prompting will make them less self-conscious, which should allow them to build presentation skills much more efficiently than immersion into a comprehensive report. It will also give you the opportunity to ask key questions to gauge how well they’ve organized their understandings and learned to apply the material.[10]
    • You can also have them give presentations to their peers, later in the course. They can go one-on-one with peers, as they just did with you, or you can have them go in front of a small panel of their peers, in an organized group process. Have the class students come up with a list of questions beforehand, which will also serve as a learning experience and way for them to demonstrate that they understand the material and evaluate fellow students presentations.

Reward Success, See Mistakes as Opportunities

  1. Let students choose their rewards. Create a list of acceptable rewards for excellent performance, either for individual students or the class as a whole, and let your students communally decide how they want to be rewarded. This will help make sure that the reward is an actual incentive, rather than just something you’ve pushed on them that doesn’t motivate them to work harder.
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  2. Teach advances by “trial and error”. Build individual growth in “Ah Hah! moments” made through calm or exciting experience, deliberate organizing and sometimes by interesting experiments. Don’t see failure, see opportunity to advance by increments/steps. Don’t say “wrong!” Say “hey”, “close” or “hmm, yeah, that’s an idea”, “how about other ideas?”, “who tried another way?”. When a student has made a mistake, don’t portray it as a tragic comedy or failure. Don’t let them say it was bad but “a reason see what may work.” Say and show that “this is a learning experience”; we want to see how “incorrect or correct results can be achieved”. Gently show them how to do it correctly, and ask “now, try again.”[11] Remember that a skill learned through trial and error will be much stronger than one which a student may simply get right by accident/guess — through means they don’t fully understand.
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  3. Try community rewards. Promote the success of individual students to benefit the class as a whole and also teams within the class. Traditional learning environments tend to create a system where under-performing students are jealous of those who don’t struggle (the stigmatizing of nerds by envious comparison). You want to create an environment in which students want to work as a united whole and which does not stigmatize or over-blow obvious of success. Quick/sharp students can help others by setting good example, being patient and encouraging of the not so quick students — . Sometimes more deliberate/slower students are strong as a big truck while others are like sports cars, but powerful trucks draw less biting remarks, not seeming as geeky. Rewarding the group will make your students much more functional adults and prepare them for real world work environments where developing as leaders and “strong” workers can help the team meet deadlines and achieve production goals.
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    • For example, create a system in which for each student that scores perfectly on a test, everyone is rewarded. You can give everyone a few points of extra credit or poll the students to find out if they’d prefer a different reward. This encourages them to work together to achieve better results and endears higher performing students to their peers.

Meet Emotional Needs

  1. Make them feel unique and needed. Acknowledge and appreciate each student individually, for the qualities which make them unique and wonderful human beings. Encourage those qualities. You should also make each student feel like they have something to offer and contribute. This will raise their confidence and help them to find their proper path in life.
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  2. Recognize their efforts. Even if students make only occasional, small efforts, those efforts need to be acknowledged and appreciated. Tell them when they’ve done a good job, individually, and mean it. Don’t be patronizing, be appreciative. If they’ve worked particularly hard, reward them. A student who’s managed to raise their grade from a D to a B+, for example, may have earned the right to pump their grade to an A with “extra credit” for the magnificent amount of work that would have been required to accomplish such a feat.
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  3. Give respect. It is extremely important to respect your students. It doesn’t matter if they’re graduate students working on a doctoral thesis or kindergartners: treat them like intelligent, capable human beings. Respect that they have ideas, emotions, and lives that extend beyond your classroom. Treat them with dignity and they will extend the same to you.
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Get Feedback

  1. Ask your students for feedback. Ask your students for feedback to get their (often very astute) perception of what’s going right and what’s going wrong in the classroom. You can ask them personally or you can create anonymous questionnaires in order to get their ideas on how things are going.
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  2. Ask family members for feedback. You can ask your student’s parents for feedback as well. Maybe they’ve noticed an improvement in their child’s abilities, confidence level, or social skills. Maybe they’ve noticed a drop. Getting this outside perspective can help you make sure that the improvements you notice inside the classroom continue outside, as well as helping to catch problems that maybe you don’t get to see.
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    • When getting feedback like this you also have a great opportunity to encourage parents to be more involved in school, whether through volunteering or other means.
  3. Ask your boss for feedback. If you are a teacher at a school, ask the principal or a more experienced teacher to come in and observe you work. Getting their outside perspective will help you, but remember to be open to criticism.
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Keep Learning

  1. Read up on your craft. Read the latest journals and papers from conferences to keep up with the most innovative methods and new ideas regarding technique. This will help keep you from falling behind in your methods.
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  2. Take classes to refresh your skills. Take classes at a local community college or university to keep your skills fresh. These will remind you of techniques you’ve forgotten or strategies that you tend to leave out.[12]
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  3. Observe other teachers. Watch not only those that are known to be good at their craft but also those that struggle. Look for why the good things are good and the bad things are bad. Take notes and employ what you learn in your own classroom.
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  4. Reflect. At the end of a day/lesson/teaching cycle reflect on what you’ve done with your class. What you did best. What you didn’t do well enough and can do better. What you should not repeat again.
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How Do You Improve Critical Thinking Skills?



  • Show enthusiasm, speak up, smile about and relish/love what you’re teaching. A teacher that cares strongly about the material and the students growth and improvement will be much more entertaining, interesting, and engaging for a student than one who recites and “lists” facts.
  • The classroom is not the only arena of learning. Your teaching should motivate the students to learn from multiple arenas of learning like visiting a Nature trail, getting exercise on the playground, learning about the work and skills, discipline needed by different professionals (attention to detail, listening, not being bored).
  • You are also going to need to know how to properly grade a paper if you teach for any significant amount of time.


  • Avoid mechanical approaches such as reading your daily lesson notes as if you’re making speeches about the course material. But, instead engage students by questioning and discussing or by activities.

Related wikiHows

  • Work with Students with Emotional and Behavioral Problems
  • Manage Conflict


Quick Summary

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