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10 Faulty Teaching Strategies to Avoid

Janelle Cox

We all know the qualities that make up effective teaching strategies: Being well prepared, knowledgeable in a subject area, and a ton of experience in their field. Teachers using effective teaching strategies are never afraid to try new things and are always developing their craft. They know that doing these things is essential in order to be an effective teacher. They also know that avoiding the wrong thing is critical too. Here are ten teaching strategies containing mistakes that you don’t want to make in your classroom.

1. Ineffective Teaching Strategies: Cold Calling Students

Less-effective teachers always use the “name sticks” to randomly call upon students to answer questions. These teachers think they are keeping their students on their toes, but in all actuality they are just putting more pressure on students and intimidating them. It’s OK to randomly call on students here and there, but if you use this as your only means to get students to participate, you will fail. Some students are naturally shy, and for these students you may find that the whole time that you are teaching, all they are doing is sitting at their seats praying that you don’t call on them. Where is the learning when you are scared?

2. Teaching Without an Objective

The key to effective teaching is to have clear learning objectives. Brief learning statements will not only help you know what you are going to be teaching, but they will also help your students to know what you expect of them.

3. Never Using Visuals

Less-effective teachers only lecture and never use visuals to accompany their lessons. Most students prefer to learn through a hands-on approach, or need to be visually stimulated to help them make a connection to what they are learning. Lecturing and text-driven teaching usually doesn’t serve students well. Visuals give students a chance to physically see what you are talking about. 

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4. Asking for Volunteers Before they Ask a Question

Most students do not respond well (expect maybe your select few) when a teacher asks for volunteers to answer a question. Do not say, “I need a volunteer to answer this question: Who was the 10th President of the United States?” If you do this, you will only get the same few people who always raise their hands, as well as a classroom full of students who are avoiding eye contact with you because they do not want to answer your question.

5. Making Students Always Take Notes

Taking notes is a great hands-on way to keep students involved in what you are teaching them, while you are teaching. But if notetaking becomes the only way that you teach, and students are always just copying what you have written on the board, they will become extremely bored and unengaged. Try giving students an outline of the notes that you want them to take so they are actively involved. They can fill in the blanks as you speak and get a chance to participate while you are teaching.

6. Failing to Mix it Up

Less-effective teachers are monotonous in their teaching, and always teach the same boring lessons in the same boring way, year after year. These teachers never mix it up and try new things. Variety is the spice of life, which means that an effective teacher knows that the more variety you have in your activities, the more likely your students will be engaged.

7. Never Using Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning is the “Super Bowl” of group work. It gives each group member individual accountability in order for their group to succeed in their task. While many teachers love to put students into groups because they think it’s a great way for them to learn, ineffective teachers fail to realize that each student needs to be accountable for themselves as well as their group work, and that is just what cooperative learning does.

8. Giving too Many Tests, or Too Long Tests

Assessing students’ work is an important part of learning, but your goal is to test their knowledge and skills, not speed or how many tests they can master. A 10-question test can be just as effective in determining the mastery of their skills as a 50-question test. Keep tests short and conduct them about once a week. 

9. Being Disrespectful to Students

Just as you want to be treated with respect, so do your students. Far too often, teachers take their role as an authority figure too far, and forget to treat their students with respect because they think they are older and wiser. While this may hold true, it is still important to treat others as you want to be treated if you want your students to enjoy your class.

10. Failing to Connect Content to the Real World

Student motivation begins with student interest and connecting what you are teaching with the real world. Ineffective teachers fail to establish relevance that relates to what students know and see every day. Successful teachers know that they need to find out students’ interests and goals, and take that and connect it to what they are teaching and make it relevant to their lives.

What do you think is a quality of an ineffective teacher? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear them.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.