I’m no expert on teaching but I do enjoy it and have found some techniques that work for me. See what you think of the three ways I’ve found to keep students involved in class! This post will be the first post in a series of three posts. I hope they help you in the classroom!
Honestly, I think the most challenging aspect of teaching (at any level) is keeping the students engaged. Some days I feel like I’m grasping at straws to get my students to respond, or even pay attention, to what I’m saying. But I have found a few useful techniques that, while they don’t fully solve the problem, can help minimize it. If you’re like me, that little bit of extra engagement is incredibly important. I want my students to learn not just simply memorize.
Unfortunately, so many college instructors today will teach on auto pilot, never pausing to see if their students are actually learning something or even digesting and understanding the information being given. Since I’m incredibly passionate about the subject I teach, I’m incredibly passionate about the subjects of my teaching. So, my first word of advice is this.
Show Your Passion!
Now, I know that may seem obvious, but I think for a lot of instructors, the material gets monotonous and loses its excitement. Believe me, if you’re not excited about what you’re teaching about, there is no way your students will be excited about it.
I don’t know about y’all, but for me, I’ve discovered that the more I teach, the more I learn! And the more I learn, the more I realize I have SO much more to learn!
Never lose the excitement you have in learning and you won’t lose the excitement of watching others learn it as well. (Presumably you got into the business of teaching whatever subject you are teaching because you have some level of passion for that subject.)
I don’t know how to quite convey to you how fundamentally important this is. YOU AFFECT YOUR STUDENTS.
I am admittedly a nerd, so as I study and write lectures for my classes, I feel like I can’t quite get enough of it. This means that sometimes, when I go into class I will openly geek out of front of my students and tell them just how excited I am about teaching them the material I’m about to teach. And I’m not ashamed to tell them when I’m learning something new myself. When they hear this, they can’t help but get excited in anticipation for what I’m about to say, since I’m so excited to tell them.
Remember, every class is different, so some classes will be more engaged, while others are less so. Something I’m learning about all classes though is to really embrace is this:
The question I don’t know the answer to, or don’t know the answer as well as I wish I did.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked a question that I felt like I couldn’t answer as adequately as I wanted. What I’d do?
I studied and researched the answer so that by my next class (I teach 4 of the same class so I get better each subsequent class) I could incorporate the newly learned material into the next lectures.
I mention this extra tidbit with a specific kind of instructor in mind. Particularly, you professors out there that have been teaching SO long that you feel like you have nothing left to learn or get excited about (and you may be rolling your eyes at my youthful naïve fervency). I encourage you, let these questions that stump you or challenge you be your motivation for learning and subsequently, teaching. The challenging questions may come less often than when you first started teaching, but you and I both know, they are going to happen at some point or another.
Ok, have I made my point well enough? Be passionate and SHOW IT!
I can’t wait to share with you my next tips! Each tip builds upon the one before, so this first tip is the foundation for the rest.
Until next time! 🙂
The Liberty Belle