Categories : Weekly Blog
Wandering eyes. Absent minds. Yawns! Even the most engaging and impressively talented of teachers will encounter disengaged students. Here are some of the most common causes for teaching trouble, and steps you can take to reverse the trend:
Students might associate learning with boredom. They are not likely to change their minds if you tell them that learning is anything but boring. But what if you make them learn without the students realizing they are actively learning?
Teach students about history by showing them a historically accurate film. Brush-up on writing skills by letting students freely choose any topic to write on. Let students build their own universe with Universe Sandbox 2. As long as you present these activities as a breather from regular lesson activities, they are much more likely to be engaging than any run of the mill lesson.
When students have free time, they tend to like constant stimulation. While you shouldn’t exactly encourage this behavior in your students, you might very well need to take it into account. This is especially true with younger children, who will find it difficult to focus for extended periods of time.
A good solution is to create the illusion that everything is moving forward. The easiest way to do this is by keep changing the activities in the classroom. Begin the day with a short group game, show the students videos, play video games and discuss the experiences. Another great idea is to buy a large timer that shows the students at all times how much of the lesson is remaining. Yet another good idea is to give the students a table of contents for the day: if they know what is coming later on, they can be prepared.
When anyone fails, it’s frustrating. It’s also very much unavoidable in life, which is why letting students fail is not only healthy but a great learning opportunity. Teach your students to approach every failure constructively: there’s no need to feel any shame, despair or think that a past failure means you will fail again. In fact the greatest masters in any field have failed more times than beginners have even tried!
Some learning activities, such as building a rocket in KerbalEdu, are guaranteed to result in a steady stream of failures. In a project or game such as this, iteration is a crucial element of the learning experience. Only by seeing their rockets explode can the students figure out what is the cause: for example, if the rocket is not balanced, it will slant towards a direction. It’s far more interesting to fail and try again than always succeed on the first try!
Students typically know what is expected of them, and may be stressed about these expectations. Worse yet, if learning goals seem too daunting, they may simply give up! It’s a good idea to occasionally just let the students enjoy themselves, even in class. It’s very unlikely that students would ever fully forget that they are studying for exams, so it’s in everyone’s best interests if you can occasionally cut them some much-needed slack.
Both apathy and fascination are contagious. Always using the same lesson bases and teaching lessons on autopilot will be immediately obvious. Even if you don’t possess infinite funds and can’t exactly go out and take out a new study book series for a spin, there are plenty of resources at your disposal.
How about using Khan Academy’s excellent free resources? Or starting a trial on Study.com? Or heading over to our very own TeacherGaming Desk? Deviating from your regular lesson plans and routines doesn’t necessarily cost you anything other than a little bit of time to prepare for new, exciting things.