1. Inquiry-based learning versus lectured
Lecturing is a classic teaching technique, and it has its place in the classroom. However, it isn’t always the most effective technique. If you overload on lectures, your students are likely to feel bored in your classroom. It can be beneficial to break up lectures with some other types of teaching activities.
One possibility is to balance direct teaching techniques like lecturing with collaborative techniques such as inquiry based learning. It could be a mistake to start with an inquiry-based approach when teaching a group that knows nothing about the subject being taught; but, once the group has acquired some basic knowledge about the topic, an inquiry-based approach can be extremely effective for engaging them to find out more. Andrew Robinson at Training.com.au points out that “both direct instruction and inquiry methods have a valuable place in teaching and learning.”
We now live in a world that’s awash in information. It’s getting less important for people to memorise mass quantities of facts; now they need to understand how to research – interpret – problem solve.
If you need to lecture, intersperse with group activities or games: chalk – talk – plenary questions – rewards.
2. Start with ‘Why’
If you can help students understand why the information you’re presenting is important, you’ll get buy-in.
Logarithms, for example, can be as dry a learning topic as you make them. In contrast, if you begin by giving examples of how people are using squares and cube functions to solve problems in fields as diverse as finance, astronomy and naval architecture, they’ll have the context that awakens ambition and sparks that passion for logarithms.
The more directly relevant you can make a topic to them, the likelier they are to care about it and get engaged.
3. Be everywhere and with everyone
It would be a mistake to confine yourself to standing in a small space in the front of the classroom. It is with horror that I have observed lessons taught almost entirely by a teacher sitting down. Walk over to the maps or other visual aids you’ve hung on the walls and physically integrate those assets into the learning experience that you’re giving. If you occasionally walk to the back of the classroom and make eye contact with the students in the back rows, you’re likelier to hold their attention. Make students curious about where you’ll go next and what you’ll do once you’re there.
4. Feel free to be silly
You don’t always have to be serious. Lighten up a little. Have some fun with your students. If there are facts that absolutely must be memorised, try making up goofy songs or poems and teach them to the class to help them remember those essentials: get creative with the visuals you put on the chalkboard. Smile. Laugh. Make an effort to change your tone of voice to avoid speaking in monotone. Enjoy being with your students. The more fun you have teaching, the more fun they’ll have learning from you.
While teaching isn’t necessarily one of the performing arts, you can certainly incorporate some theatrical elements into your approach. It might feel awkward at first, but no one remembers the lesson; they remember the teacher.
Are you currently seeking your next teaching role? Put these tips into practice and search our job site here.
About the author
Andrej is a digital marketing specialist, dedicated writer and digital evangelist, with a keen passion for exploring how technology can help both in classrooms and home learning. He is a contributor to a wide range of technology-focused publications, where he may be found discussing how technology is influencing everything from neural networks and natural language processing.