How to make Your Every Lesson an Exciting Adventure?
Making lessons unforgettable is what every teacher aims for. Believe it or not it is achievable, the only pre-requisite is passion for teaching. The rest you can easily learn. Of course it will require dedication but if we assume that you love your job, it is going to be pure fun and you will never consider it too overwhelming. Your inner drive for self-development is what makes you a good teacher, and sooner or later you will notice that being a teacher means more than being a professional. It is about transforming both your inner world and that of your students.
The approaches I am going to discuss below will help you turn your lessons in a high quality experience. You will learn how to apply these approaches but if you are not teaching as a sensitive human being, then your lessons will not “wow” your students. I’ve been using the approaches for many years now to a great success, and I’ve seen many teachers doing the same and hundreds of students of all ages responding to their lessons with enthusiasm, curiosity, passion and gratitude.
The Most Effective Approaches to Planning Exciting Lessons
Making your lesson personalised means that you actually consider your students’ interests, needs and passions. This will reflect the choice of topics you want to discuss, the learning styles your students prefer, and the extent they use and develop their skills. When it comes to topics, you will probably be required to follow your curriculum but there is always a way to make it more related to what your students prefer. For example, you are teaching History and need to cover a particular event in time. Try to relate it to a movie, a game, a book or even a song that your students like, which will help you turn your lesson into a meaningful experience. Personalising also means offering your students the way of learning they prefer as individual. It is not difficult at all to organise your lesson around different learning styles and provide variety of tasks that will fit for all your students. There will certainly be students who prefer to work individually or in groups – make use of your classroom management skills. Others will want to move around and use their body – display some tasks on the walls or arrange different work stations around the classroom. When catering for a few musical kids – play some background music while they work. Teaching visual ones – use stimulating images and photographs a lot. Finally, keep in mind at all times that some students may need more time to complete their work while others are already done – offer enough time for everyone to feel confident but have a little something extra at hand for the quick ones.
This is one of the most important principles of learning – it needs to be hands-on. Plan your lesson around the activities that can be experienced by your students so that they can learn by doing, make their own assumptions and predictions, and draw their own conclusions. Active Learning is an experiment if it is a Science lesson (providing it’s done by the students themselves), a dynamic role play, observing nature, designing things and using variety of materials, a field trip, or an outing to a museum where your children can touch objects and interact with them. The possibilities are endless. What you need to remember is that Active Learning is not necessarily a project. It is an experience that allows your students to discover by themselves the things that you would like them to learn. As a teacher you will need to create an enabling environment for them to be able to do so. Such sessions are process-oriented and there is no right or wrong way for a child to approach them. Your students need to be allowed to experiment and interact with the environment as they see fit, and your task is to gently guide them by means of suggestions, modelling, challenges and thought provoking questions. You will also want them to give you their final conclusions as to what they have learned, and you will summarise their experiences offering additional commentary, demonstrations or follow-up experiences.
Your lessons need to be dynamic if you want to keep your students’ attention. This means that the activities will be short and their nature will change from one to another. Do not plan for similar activities one after another, but rather spread them in time. For example, if you have planned a reading lesson, make the reading session short enough for your students to enjoy the process and follow it up with something dynamic such as a discussion, a project, a group work or a station work to make your students move around. It will not be a good idea to have two reading sessions in a row. As reading requires focused attention let your students relax a bit in between the two sessions and plan for something dynamic as a follow-up experience.
Flexibility is King. The more relaxed your are about your lessons the more enjoyable they will become for your students. It often happens that teachers plan too much for one lesson only to find out that there is little time left to complete all the tasks. It is always good to remember that your main intention as a teacher is to offer meaningful experiences to your students, and this does not necessarily mean covering all the planned material on one lesson. What matters even more for your students is that they enjoy the process and learn as a result of being engaged in something exciting. Observe your students at all times and your will soon discover how to recognise when they are enjoying your activities and when they are not. Rushing creates anxiety, pressure and competition, and these do not facilitate learning. It is better to plan less but cover it well rather than to pack your lesson with too many activities and leave your students disappointed and stressed because of the rush. If you need to cover specific curriculum areas, try to plan your lesson using the cross-curricular and cross-topical approach. Linking two separate topics with something meaningful will help you cover more within less amount of time, and definitely more effectively. For example, by discussing habitats you may cover not only animal species but also weather, sustainability, plants, ecology, life cycles, etc.
The Final Note
The above mentioned approaches to teaching should be used simultaneously to be effective. If you find it difficult to incorporate them all, especially at the beginning of your teaching career, try taking small steps. Using one approach at a time and observing how your students react will help you gain more confidence, and it will make it easier for you to identify what went wrong and what was particularly useful. What they all require is continues practice and being reflective about your own teaching. For better results, it is highly recommended that you read more about the approaches outlined here, observe experienced teachers, and ask your colleagues observe you and give you feedback on your performance.
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