How to engage with your students
How to engage with your students
“Learning is more effective when it is an active rather than a passive process.” – Euripides
A teacher’s life is difficult: they have to have engaging discussions in their classes, making sure that students feel comfortable enough with them to come to them for help while ensuring that a level of respect is maintained. While this may have been slightly difficult in the past, with recent studies and technologies coming out about how to engage students in classrooms, there is little excuse for teachers to keep having boring class lectures.
Here are some easy ways to have fun and engaging classes:
1. Active vs. Passive Discussions
The most common mistake that teachers in our society tend to make is one related directly to the authority. They come into their classrooms with the belief that their students do not know, while they are the only ones who know about the topic they are coming to teach. They crush any chances of discussion with their students and focus on giving mundane lectures while their students’ attention drifts off.
Having active discussions in classrooms is what defines a good teacher. Give your students the chance to ask questions, repeatedly reminding them that there is no such thing as a stupid or dumb question, and allowing them to express their opinion in a safe environment. Active discussions are also an excellent way to assess the level of understanding of your students.
2. Collaborative learning
Teaching students’ collaborative skills before giving them group projects and presentations is the simplest way of ensuring that your students leave with a crucial life skill: how to be a team player. Too often, the most harrowing experience for students becomes a group project where only one person works while the others are freeloaders. Giving your students the ability to hold themselves and their partners accountable for their tasks in a project teaches them responsibility and how to work together.
3. Make Use of Dead Time
New studies are showing that using dead time, such as attendance and the few minutes where people are trickling into classes, to have fun activities such as customized handshakes or salutations, mind warm-ups or even 5 minutes of guided meditation before the beginning of the lesson sets the tone for the rest of the class.
4. Remove Unnecessary Barriers
In academics, especially in college and university, many teachers find themselves unable to connect with their students and keep them engaged in the lesson. The biggest reason for this is because teachers tend to teach at their level of understanding rather than coming down to the students’ level. They will use difficult language to explain even more difficult concepts and then be upset when their students do not understand. Using contextualized and local examples to teach difficult things has shown to improve student understanding, and also encourages students to come up with their patterns and engage more readily.
5. Student-Led Classes
A foolproof way to engage students in a discussion is to give them options about what the lesson should be about. Letting students decide the topic of the forum once a week gives them the chance to pay attention to what is being discussed, and primarily focus on what interests them the most.
6. Give frequent feedback, be available
A frequent complaint of students is that they do not know whether they are doing well in their classes or not, especially after handing in their assignments. Teachers are not available during office hours and return assignments months after they were delivered. Students are more likely to engage with teachers who give frequent and personalized feedback because it makes them feel seen and heard.
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