The joy of learning is something that anyone at any stage of their lives can experience because the journey of learning never ends. Nonetheless, the word “learning” reminds us of school, and the period of schooling is perhaps the most significant time in any individual’s life. It is important for teachers to represent learning as a fun and enriching process to students and admittedly, that is a tough job. The following tips or ideas are those that teachers can utilize to add flavor to their lessons, increase the enthusiasm and most importantly, leave a lasting impression on students that learning is fun!
IDEA #1: UNDERSTAND YOUR STUDENTS
Recognizing whether your students are in the right frame of mind to absorb information (by simply studying their facial expressions and body language) during lessons, is an art itself. It is difficult for students to continuously absorb information (back to back for different subjects), process them and let’s not forget that this happens for the whole day. Very little time is available for students to take a breather, and let what they have heard through their ears to sink into their minds. As such, teachers have to channel their lessons in different directions each time, to accommodate to their students’ mindset.
For example, students may seem exhausted during your lesson due to a long day that they might have had. This would mean that they might be unable to take in content that has too many nitty gritty details. Instead of drilling your students with paragraphs after paragraphs of definitions, formulas and theories, go for a more macroscopic approach in discussing a topic. Broadly discuss the main parts of the topic, get your students to create a mind map together as a class and don’t forget to encourage your students to be as creative as possible in constructing their mind maps. Initiate a class discussion and ensure all your students get to express their knowledge and opinion and as a teacher you will be the guiding torch that paves the way for the meaningful discussion.
IDEA #2: CUSTOMISE YOUR TEACHING
As a teacher you would come across different types of students and at least once in you teaching experience, you would have definitely taught students with short attention spans; and YES, it’s tough to handle them. Such students are not deliberately trying to make your life difficult but that is how they are; they become restless very easily. The trick to handling such students is to introduce some sort of hands-on activity into each lesson somehow, which keeps them on their toes. Such students absorb information in a very quick pace and as a teacher if you are able to pick up on their speed and design your lessons to be engaging and spontaneous, you will produce geniuses out of your classroom for sure.
Another type of students is those that would get bored out if it’s all WORDS, WORDS and MORE WORDS. For such students, introducing pictures and colours keeps them engaged in their learning. An excellent way to gather their involvement is to look up on educational videos related to the topic you are teaching and show them to your class. Videos reinforce and sometimes even offer fresh new perspectives on what is being taught in textbooks. It will be refreshing for students and also keeps them eager to come for each lesson. Automatically, the thirst for knowledge comes about and surely, no teacher should ever leave their students parched.
IDEA #3: DESIGN GROUP ACTIVTIES
The universally well known, usual classroom rules are “Don’t talk and listen carefully” and “Be attentive at all times”. Instead of being authoritative and being militant about students being quiet at all times, if you arrange group activities in the classroom, students can visibly see these traditional classroom rules being broken and this is the first successful step to create a vibrant learning environment.
Some ways in which this idea can be manifested is for example, in a history lesson, students can be divided into groups of 5 and a timeline of a historical figure in the textbook could be divided accordingly and assigned to each group. The activity could then be for each group to illustrate in pictures and words about the details of the events that had occurred in the life of this historical figure, for the specific range of years they have been allocated. After each group has presented their work in front of the class in sequence, students would realize that they would not have a tough time recalling content for what they have presented what they have seen being presented as it has been all hands-on. By simplifying something that seems complicated and possibly putting across information like a story, would make learning so much more fun and registering content will not seem like a herculean task anymore.
IDEA #4: CHANGE THE LOCATION
You might be wandering about what locations has to do with learning. Though this may seem insignificant, it in fact has a huge impact on one’s learning. By changing lesson locations, it increases memory cues to recall information. This increases the chances of recalling content even down to the smallest of details during examinations. Every time the venue is being changed, students would feel refreshed and energized and they would definitely be more focused during lessons, which is a crucial aspect of learning. For school teachers, they can change their locations by booking different rooms in the school, maybe the computer labs sometimes (which also means some online methods of teaching can also be incorporated) the library or anywhere that is conducive to conduct a lesson. For home tutors, they can switch to different rooms or even take the lessons outdoors to locations that are learner-friendly if the student is comfortable with that idea.
IDEA #5: PROVIDE PRACTICAL EXAMPLES AND ENCOURAGE EXPERIMENTATION
Providing real-life examples while teaching a topic is an excellent memory reinforcement tool for students. What seems complex would become simple and relatable and it reduces apprehension and doubts when approaching a new topic.
For example, if you are a chemistry teacher explaining the properties of NaCl (or salt), you could bring in a real-life example about how salt is always added at the end in cooking (to prevent the dish from becoming soggy and sticky) because one of salt’s properties is that it releases moisture when added to anything and everything. As another example, let’s say you are a physics tutor, you could bring in an actual mini-sized pendulum to explain law of motion and mechanical energy through demonstration.
Introducing experiments encourages an investigative nature and hones students’ problem-solving skills. It enables students to make their own mistakes, find a solution by themselves or by working together with their peers (who would have different perspectives and ideas) and at last realize what went wrong and what went right at the end of all of it. All of this converges to an important principle and that is independent learning which is especially important for tertiary education and beyond.
IDEA #6: EMPHASISE THAT FAILURE IS IMPORTANT
Often times students feel unmotivated and disengaged when it comes to learning as they are afraid of and daunted by failures in their educational journey. In fact, it is part of a teacher’s responsibility to teach their students that making mistakes and facing failures is not something to be ashamed of and it should never feed one’s insecurities. Be an amicable teacher who speaks his or her mind and tell your students that they should never fear failures. In fact, failures are signs that one is trying and that is the springboard to success. Assuage your students’ concerns, be a moral support and be approachable so that they do not fear asking questions. Remind your students that they are not alone and always push them towards achieving their maximum potential, bringing out the best in them.
IDEA #7: REWARD YOUR STUDENTS
Rewards does not necessarily have to be gifts, but even small appreciations or motivational words would push students forward and simple things like these means a lot to them. This strengthens the special bond between students and teachers, which will eventually contribute to a vibrant and loving classroom atmosphere.
Teachers shape the future generation in each and every classroom and hence it is an extremely noble profession. Keeping this in mind, every tutor should try to bring out the best in their students in every way possible.
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