With it being the end of the academic year, I have been thinking recently about what it was that made some of my lessons particularly enjoyable and how some of them could have been more engaging.
It seems very simple that the best way for teachers to understand what makes a lesson good is by asking the students themselves.
By finding out what it is that us pupils think would allow us to improve, it helps motivate students to really engage. Also, it will reduce the amount of work and effort that teachers have to do to prep and prepare. Whilst there are already a number of classroom guidelines written by experts in the field, I wonder whether a guide written from the eyes of someone in the classroom, would prove far more valuable in improving your classroom.
Hopefully, these tips will help improve your teaching methods and make your classroom a better learning environment:
Create a spark
By this I mean looking at the way that your teaching practice fuels your pupils’ imaginations and love for a subject. By positively motivating students, not only will they be more willing to participate in class discussions, your classroom relationships, with them and one another, will also become a positive experience for all.
Suggestions for activities to help fuel this positive culture include fun classroom quizzes that encourage collaboration rather than standard class tests or reviews.
Firm but fair
Setting an example of good and disciplined behaviour in the classroom is an essential part of your teaching. Whilst students will always try and get away with setting their own rules and behaviours, it is important to set a clear example of what you expect from them from the very beginning.
If you maintain discipline in your classroom, an effective stream of communication in the classroom will be maintained. That being said, students will also respect a teacher that can inject a sense of fun into their lessons. A relaxed but respected classroom will always breed the most productivity from both teacher and students.
Essentially, school is preparing us for adulthood. Therefore, it is vital that skills that we will need are implemented into school life. Independence is extremely important as children grow up.
Therefore, educators must do their utmost to ensure us students are able to utilise these attributes and showcase them in later life. That is why it is your duty to give students choices. Even if your students make mistakes, mistakes are how we learn.
Alexandra K Trenfor once said, "the best teachers show you where to look but not what to see."
Check how your students are doing!
Interact with your pupils! As a student, I know how infuriating it is when a teacher speaks about a topic and then does not follow up by checking on us individually. A teacher that doesn’t give us the time to digest and reflect can often be seen as unapproachable.
In other words, a teacher needs to show us that they are putting in just as much work to make a lesson a positive learning experience as is expected of us as students!
If you want students to love your subject, show us that you love it yourself! Showing pride in your subject increases our engagement and concentration.
Last year, there was a subject I truly disliked – I began to dread the lessons, only just scraping through by doing the bare minimum, if not less. However, this all changed when a teacher who was extremely passionate about the subject, helped me during lunch breaks to improve my understanding of it.
Whilst I did not fly to the top of the class, I did gradually improve my performance and effort as I felt motivated to improve. I didn’t feel that I had got any better, but this teacher reassured me that the improvement was noticeable. As a result, my exam results were ones that I was proud of.
This anecdote demonstrates that it is vital for teachers to engage with students- even when it appears they don’t want help. Often it is the disengaged students that have the potential to succeed; they just need the support to try harder with the help of your commitment.
Remember, listening to the students in your classroom really can be the best way to improve your teaching practice!
About our Guest Writer
Year 8 student
Adam is a year 8 student and a resident writer here at Opogo. Having been involved with Opogo's TeachDigital programme and interning with the marketing team in his spare time, Adam has asked to be a regular writer for the team.
With a passion for writing, Adam hopes to harness and hone his skills as a writer by giving us his first-hand experiences and knowledge of the education sector - this time from a student's point of view.