So you’ve been hired and have started teaching. Now how do you optimize our student’s classroom experience so that they get the most out of their education? Here are 4 Ways to Effectively Communicate As A Teacher – Part 1
Entertain and Educate
I’ll start with what I feel is the one of the most important aspects of being an effective teacher. To be an effective teacher you need to also be an effective entertainer. Think about workshops, conferences or even weddings you’ve attended. The best speakers are the ones who are entertaining and keep you involved. If you are being entertained, you are definitely paying attention and getting your students to pay attention is half the battle as a teacher. It’s so difficult these days to keep the attention of your students but it’s vital if you want them to gain something from your lessons. Don’t be a clown but humour can go a long way to create this entertaining and positive learning environment.
How can you do this?
Maybe you’re not the type of person who jokes around and really doesn’t feel comfortable making light in the classroom setting. Well this is what I do. I understand that at times it’s important to be self-deprecating and not take yourself too seriously. It’s often about making innocent jokes, mostly at your own expense, to break the ice and create a more relaxed atmosphere where your students can learn effectively. For example I am a terrible artist but in my class I don’t shy away from drawings, in fact, I emphasize them and we all have a good laugh.
How about this example. When I starting teaching my students about projectile motion I decided that I’d try to lighten things up so instead of introducing it through a series of facts or explanation, I got my students to think about something else; projectile vomit. As soon as I said it they came alive and I’m sure were wondering what I was doing. I bet they’ve never had a teacher who talked to them about projectile vomit before. I explained that there are four kinds of projectile vomit: straight down (downward vertical vomit), straight up (upward vertical vomit), straight-out away from you (horizontal vomit) and away from you at an elevated angle so that it gains some height before splatting down on the ground. I used a series of pictures depicting what I was saying and I’ll tell you something, not a single student was doing anything other than looking at me and paying full attention. Some were giggle but that’s fine, you don’t giggle when you’re bored.
Create Interactive Lessons
Nothing kills a topic faster than a teacher who stands at the front of the room and lectures for an hour. Get creative and mix things up. The way I do this is to chunk my lessons into three or four segments each being very different from the last. For instance: You start a lesson by giving a 15-minute PowerPoint note (segment 1). You end the PowerPoint with a question that the students need to lookup on their smartphones or talk about in small groups (segment 2). Following this you begin a class discussion surrounding the question looked at in segment 2 (this is segment 3). Lastly you get your students to perform a hands-on activity that allows them to learn the material by doing (segment 4). Perhaps segment 4 is the start of a larger task such as a project that can be carried over to the next day.
As an aside that didn’t quite fit above, I further segment my lessons by linking to short videos into my PowerPoint’s. These videos help reinforce the information I’ve conveyed but at the same time, give my students a short brain-break during the lesson. I’ve attached a screenshot of how I do this in my PowerPoint. This video is found about 2/3 of the way through my lesson on Invasive Species. The video opens once I click the image while in slideshow mode.
Create engagement through demonstrations
Nothing hooks a class like a demonstration. I use demonstrations both at the start of the lesson to get my kids excited about what we are about to do or during the lesson to provide a visual of the content and/or its application. Demonstrations don’t need to be complex, they don’t even need to take up much of your time. They can be done by you in front of your class or via a video you found on YouTube. Either way, they should accomplish your goals of breaking up the lesson and providing some real applicability to what you are talking about.
The content found in this post is an excerpt from my eBook – Teach Well and Maintain Your Sanity. Click Here or the image below to download TWO free chapters.
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