Whether you work in a school or as a private tutor, to teach effectively, your students need to be engaged and paying attention.
Sleeping students learn very little! It can be difficult to create and plan engaging lessons, especially when you’ve just started teaching. While you can learn a lot on a course like the PGCE, nothing can replace real-life classroom experience.
In this article, we’ll show you how to make your lessons more interesting. These tips should be useful for any teacher, but they’ll be particularly useful if you’ve just started teaching.
Mixing Things Up and Adapting Resources
On most teaching courses, you’ll learn about choosing resources and planning lessons, but it can be difficult to see how well they work until you test them in the classroom.
Teachers need to use a variety of teaching approaches and resources to ensure their lessons are engaging. A two-hour lecture can quickly put a lot of students to sleep, even if you are the teacher of the year!
There are a few ways to avoid this.
Remember that what makes a “good class” will depend on the course, the students, and the subject, but the following should apply to most:
- Students participate and are well-behaved.
- The lessons are structured around and focused on the skills and knowledge that students need to learn.
- Students need to feel like they’re progressing and that they achieved their learning objectives at the end of each lesson.
- Both the students and the teacher don’t even realise where the time went.
- There’s a convivial atmosphere and the teacher and students are interested in doing the work.
If you’ve worked as a teacher before, you probably know just how difficult some of these things are to achieve. However, nothing’s impossible if you’re willing to put the work in.
The most important advice is to mix things up. You need to ensure that the learning experienced is varied, especially in classes with several students. Of course, there are limits to what you can do due to the time and resources you have at your disposal. However, you’d be surprised at just how many different ways you can teach something.
You’ll also want to alternate between different activities like playing games, taking notes, group discussions, etc. A broad variety of activities can keep students engaged and will also mean that there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
You can’t guarantee that everything on your course will be interesting and there are certain topics that you’ll have to teach anyway. You just have to try and make them as interesting as possible.
While you mightn’t get to choose what you have to teach, you do have more freedom when it comes to how you get to teach it. Certain educational establishments will give you more freedom than others, but there are still a lot of different ways to teach a given topic even with limited resources.
Choose the most engaging way to approach the subject.
Your students will appreciate it!
Using Different Learning Resources
A lot of teachers now have a wide range of different resources they can use to make their lessons more interesting, which is especially true of digital resources. If you’ve recently trained as a teacher, you’ll know just how useful digital multimedia resources can be.
A lot of students in primary school and secondary school don’t want to be there, after all. They can see their lessons as getting in the way of what they want to do so the teacher has to try and make them as enjoyable as possible.
Your skills as a teacher will be wasted if your students aren’t listening to you so don’t put your students to sleep with boring classes!
Here are some resources that can make lessons more interesting:
- PowerPoint (with a lot of audio and visuals)
- Handouts and worksheets (again with lots of images)
- Computer games (if you have access to an IT lab)
- Interactive quizzes
- The whiteboard (you’d be surprised how much students love the opportunity to write on it)
- Audio resources (songs, speeches, stories, etc.)
- Video resources (films, videos, documentaries, series, etc.)
- Overhead projector (for a retro feel)
As a teacher, PowerPoints can be a powerful tool as long as you remember to include multimedia and make them engaging. You can show students new information in a way that’s far more entertaining than just being told it.
Audio and video are also useful but you have to make sure that students don’t get overexcited as you don’t want to have to give them a telling off. Computers are great for interactive quizzes and games and a lot of students will see the screen time as a reward.
Choose the resources that work for you. Each resource is different and you need to think carefully about which will be best for your class and what you’re trying to teach. The best idea is to use a mix of them.
Make Your Lessons Fun with Digital Resources
Education has changed a lot in recent years. Now, the focus is more on providing students with an environment within which they can learn. Students are encouraged to learn from one another and play a more active role in their learning.
Of course, younger students sometimes need more guidance and direction to learn effectively. The field of teaching is constantly evolving so it’s a good idea to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements and teaching approaches.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean you can’t teach a “traditional” class. You just have to spruce it up with different activities, teaching approaches, and resources.
Getting Students to Interact
If you’re struggling to get your students to pay attention or engage with your lessons, it might be your lesson that’s the problem. Think about how you can make it more enjoyable and engaging.
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” - Malcolm X
To teach in a school, you want to ensure your students can be active participants in the lesson. For one, this will help them to stay awake and learn as a result as teachers can be far more effective when their students aren’t sleeping.
Games can make lessons far more fun and you can play games in smaller groups or as a class. You’ll also want to pay attention to what’s popular with the kids.
Whether you’re teaching science or foreign languages, you need to speak to the kids in their language. This doesn’t mean you have to be their best friend or learn all the latest slang; you need to find a happy medium where you can still retain your authority.
Stay abreast of the latest developments in teaching to make sure that you’re teaching as effectively as you can. Just because you’re a qualified teacher, that doesn’t mean you’ve finished your training. Never stop learning!
Now you should know a little more about sprucing up your lessons to make them more engaging for your students. To learn more about teaching, check out the other articles on the Superprof website!
If you'd like help with teaching, you could always look to private tutors. On Superprof, there are tutors for a large variety of subjects as well as those who specialise in teaching or pedagogy.
There are different types of tutoring available so you must consider the pros and cons of each before you decide which would work best for you and what you want to learn.
Face-to-face tutoring is excellent if you have specific things you want to learn and work on as the tutor can tailor every lesson to you. These tutors tend to charge more than others as they spend extra time outside of the lessons planning and adapting their resources to the student. However, this also makes them the most cost-effective type of tutoring because every minute of the lesson is spent working with you.
Group tutorials are great for those on a budget as the cost of the tutor's time is shared amongst several students. This does mean that you won't be able to get lessons that are tailored specifically to you, but if you're looking to brush up on your subject, for example, this type of learning approach could be very useful and affordable.
If you can't find any suitable or available tutors in your local area, you can always broaden your search to include private online tutors from all over the country and around the world. As long as you have a webcam and a decent internet connection, there's no limit to how far away your tutors can be.
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