1. The old ways don't work. It's a sad fact that teachers, in some respects, have less power than back in the day when the cane was a looming deterrent against bad behaviour! This means that nowadays shouting the odds won't get you anywhere. Consumers are very aware of their rights today, and you almost have to see your pupils as consumers: if you scream and shout, you're guaranteed to have a furious parent on your case yelling "You can't speak to my child like that!" - and they're right.
2. Fear sends kids flying. Being approachable means, well, not being scary! As soon as pupils are scared, especially younger children, they want to flee. So, if you want them to concentrate and learn, intimidating them is not the way to do it.
3. Ease the tension. If someone seems unapproachable, they can appear unhappy or stressed. Students pick up on this tension and are more likely to play up. If you relax, you instantly become more approachable and the tension eases, making the classroom a better place for learning.
4. Encourage questions. When a person doesn't understand something, the natural response is to ask someone. Just imagine: you arrive in a city you've never visited before. You spot a steward but they look so fed up that you're scared to ask, so instead you spend ages getting lost in a map! Students need to feel safe asking a teacher questions without the risk of getting their head bitten off.
5. Keep students motivated. Interacting with students in a friendly way keeps their confidence and enthusiasm up. This doesn't mean being the "cool teacher" who lets them get away with things other teachers don't, and you always need to maintain your professionalism, but being unapproachable will soon eat into their motivation.
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6. Don’t be a dictator. At the end of the day, to be a successful teacher you need to be seen as a mentor; not on an individual basis (which is simply impossible if you have dozens of students) but for the class as a whole. By being approachable - getting into a guidance role rather than just telling them what's right and wrong - you’ll get much better results.
7. Keep parents on-side. It's embarrassing to admit, but awkward parents can be one of the worst parts of the job! If you're approachable, not only is the pupil less likely to moan about you to their parents, but the parents themselves are more likely to come to you with any concerns instead of going straight to your boss.
8. Impress your peers. Deep down, all teachers want to be liked by their students. If your colleagues see students coming out of your lesson with smiles on their faces, you'll earn their respect and, even better, possibly make them jealous!
9. Improve your career prospects. If you have a good reputation, you are far more likely to be approached about vacancies than if you have a name as being difficult to work with. If you're a temp or supply teacher, approachability can be key with both teaching agencies and schools.
10. Reduce your stress levels! Approachability is associated with being friendly and relaxed, while the opposite is linked to stress, anger and unhappiness. It's natural to worry about your students and your lessons, especially as an NQT, but making an effort to be approachable will help you relax, and before long it won’t take any effort at all!
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