How to Win Students and Inspire Them During Your First Year

By EdTech Evangelist Courtney Teague

While we all ask key existential questions at times, there is no more basic, fundamental, or critical query than, “Why do I teach?”

When you ask yourself the question, “Why do I teach?” you embark upon a journey of personal and professional growth. The journey will be difficult, yet rewarding. As an educator, I will share a four nuggets of wisdom on how to win students and inspire them during your first year of school.

Start with why

Students are drawn to teachers who are good at communicating what they believe. Your ability to make students feel like they belong, to make them feel special, safe, and not alone is part of what gives you the ability to inspire them.

I remember I had to write my philosophy of education in order to earn my undergraduate degree. It was long and filled with theories from men long dead. In all honesty, my written philosophy did not actually reflect my thoughts on why I accepted teaching as my vocation. It wasn’t until I truly gained some teaching experience that I knew my why for becoming an educator.

Your why does not have to be “standards based” or “common core.” Your why as a teacher is not to increase your students’ test scores but to equip them for real life.

Write ’em up

No, I do not mean you should write an office referral.

I used to write notes to my whole class. I didn’t have the time to handwrite notes for each of my students, but I personalized my class notes to make everyone feel special. This is an invitation to transform the awful injunction “write ’em up” into something students can look forward to. It is an act of kindness.

Kindness, in the context of teaching with love, begins with you. Writing each student a simple note is a form of active, loving encouragement, an act of kindness. Unfortunately, this is done all too infrequently. How do you think a note of encouragement will impact your students?

Student enthusiasm will never rise higher than your own. Every time you interact with a student, you can make his or her day better — or worse! Before each class, reflect on the previous day and think about what you want to reinforce. This puts you in a new position, giving you a different title. You are now the CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) of your class.

Yes-Yes

Do not begin class by discussing the things you will not tolerate. Instead, begin by emphasizing, and keep on emphasizing, the things that you believe are true. Point out that you, collectively, are working toward the same end result. Your methods may differ, but your purpose is always the same.

Do not provide a chance for your students to tell you “no.” An effective teacher provides a way for students to say “yes” from the outset.

Implement these quick tips & see an immediate influence. As a first year teacher, what do you have to lose?

Discover how easy it is to empower your class during your first year. Read How to win students and inspire them and reach your students.


Dr. Courtney L. Teague began her career as a special educator who taught students with various learning disabilities. More than 11 years of experience have led Teague to view technology and new media as essential to facilitating educational and societal change. Now a technology evangelist, Teague is also the chief technology and empowerment officer of Techknowledgey.Works. She focuses her interest particularly on projects related to the design of learning environments, mobile learning, digital equity, information literacy, and global education. She says her duty is to help identify learning needs and facilitate the use of technology to enhance learning experiences. She tweets at @CourtneyLTeague and blogs on www.TechTechTeach.com. Find her book at: How to Win Students and Inspire Them.


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To be reminded why your work is so very important and for more stories and advice, visit our collection of teacher perspectives at The Art of Teaching.

You can view the McGraw-Hill Education Privacy Policy here: http://www.mheducation.com/privacy.html. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author, and do not reflect the values or positioning of McGraw-Hill Education or its sales.

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