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Eric Hill: Be personable and establish a bond of trust with your students

Eric Hill

What do you love about teaching?

Enabling students of all ages to think critically and accomplish new tasks.

Tell us about some of your achievements

Turning the occasional unengaged and/or underperforming student into a dedicated learner is among my foremost accomplishments. These are the types of students teachers tend to give up on the soonest, but I find they often simply need the proper kind of reinforcement in order to perform well.

Tell us about some of the challenges you face in your job.

Low academic standards at for-profit educational institutions can be the most difficult challenge to negotiate. However, exceeding the quality of work expected of one’s company bonds a teacher with their students more firmly, and reinforces the idea that the student-teacher relationship predominates in the classroom, which is a place of learning (not of business).

Watching students exceed their expectations demonstrates the power of initiative, and reminds me that anyone is capable of improving.

Eric Hill

What inspires you?

Watching students exceed their expectations demonstrates the power of initiative, and reminds me that anyone is capable of improving, with a combination of internal effort and external guidance.

What would you like to tell someone who is new or trying to be a teacher?

Be personable and establish a bond of trust with your students — if they aren’t comfortable making mistakes, they’ll be reluctant to participate at all. Also, basic technique can come from a book, but mastery can only come from experience. Watch your students learn and monitor them for signs of comprehension (essentially, learn to improve your teaching style from their feedback).

Any interesting stories you’d like to share with our readers?

I once had a young student repeatedly disrupt the class by striking other children and talking loudly. I responded to his misbehavior by confiscating his notebook and tearing-up his homework. The student was clearly upset at the time, but I believe he understood that if he continued to waste the class’ time, I would add work for him to re-accomplish at home (effectively wasting his).

From the next session on forward, the student was relatively well-behaved and even began contributing productively to class.

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