Teachers Can Change the World
When I was in school I had a handful of amazing teachers. I went to a private school, a public school and homeschool. I got a little bit of a taste of everything and each one has it’s benefits. However, my teachers at Liberty Christian School, which at the time was in Denton, TX, were some of my best. My sixth grade teacher Mr. Terrell was the most creative at keeping us engaged and entertained and seemed to know when we just needed a break, and my 12th grade geometry teacher Mrs. Grey was excellent at teaching a subject that I didn’t think I was capable of learning – and I made an A in her class. To me, being a good teacher isn’t just teaching the students that learn easily, but teaching all students despite their abilities. This is challenging work. With a classroom of varying IQs, genders, ages and backgrounds it can be quite a juggling act to not bore the more advanced students while not leaving behind the slower learning students.
Keep Students Engaged
One way a teacher can keep students engaged in learning is through using classroom clickers and testing students quickly and easily on the information that they just learned. If you live in a school district that works with a company like ALL In Learning you may have the option to quickly scan bubble sheet tests or to use a clicker for a student to respond to newly learned material. This allows teachers to see who is keeping up and who is lagging behind. Let’s face it, we all check out from time to time even as adults. Students are just as busy as adults with schoolwork, sports, social media, dating, etc. Sometimes their lives are much more complicated and keeping them engaged in Geography or Algebra can be difficult if they’d rather be scrolling through Instagram.
“It Makes My Students More Successful”
Check out these videos from ALL In Learning to learn more about how their program works to help you keep students engaged in the classroom.
Other Ways to Engage Students in the Classroom
Make it Personal
When I hear a speaker give a great talk I always think it is better when they make it personal. When we have real-world data to tie in the information being shared it makes it more real. Personal details give layer and dimension to a story or subject. If you are teaching math you may share how fractions can help you calculate the cost of tipping at a restaurant or calculating a mortgage. When teaching on geography a teacher may include personal details of a trip and how it impacted their view of the world. Mr. Terrell made our classroom very personal by bringing his fiancé to class and introducing her to us. He told us about the engagement and included us in details of his life. He was less like a teacher and more like a cool uncle. He taught 6th grade and we were in our own portable building so it seemed like we were in our own little world. That classroom was where I spent a large part of my life transitioning into young adulthood. The way Mr. Terrell treated me helped shaped my view of the world and even how I viewed myself. He made me feel valuable and special by being authentic and sharing part of who he was with all of us.
As I mentioned before, one of my best teachers, Mr. Terrell, was a master at student engagement. He would play music for us during our tests, usually it was classical, but he would tell us a story about the music before he would play it. Even if it wasn’t our preferred type of music, knowing something about the composer was really interesting. He also brought in a special set of speakers and one of the first CD players. I had never even heard of a CD player in the 80’s, but he showed up with it and a great set of speakers and it was great. It made me feel special that our teacher would bring something expensive into the classroom and share it with us.
Let Your Students Teach
A great way to keep students engaged is to allow them to become the teacher. This is a win/win. It gives the teacher a break and also allows the students to learn from one of their peers. When a student has to give a presentation or teach on a specific topic it forces them to engage by preparing materials. Allowing students to teach will boost their communication skills. During the presentation don’t interrupt, but instead hold your feedback and comments until the end. Focus on the positive aspects of their teaching and encourage them in ways that allows the to continue to grow.
When I was younger my mom worked with students who wanted to sing. She wasn’t a professional voice coach, but a youth pastor’s wife. There were students who believed they weren’t good singers, but with a lot of patience and encouragement, she helped one young man not only succeed at singing from the stage but he went on to sing and record a gospel album. Teachers have that ability – they can take a piece of coal and turn it into a diamond. Some students only need someone to believe in them.
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