Guest blog by Tudor Davies.
If you think back to your time at school then your former teachers will fall into several different categories, such as the boffin professor who told you fact after fact, the strict teacher who made you work hard, the apathetic teacher who just told you what you needed to know and the passionate teacher who made learning fun. Now, let me ask you: “which one do you mostly fondly remember?” and “which one taught you something that you still remember?” For the most part, people will say the passionate teacher but how can current and prospective teachers become that type of teacher? What do they need to know and what approach should they take? Well, keep reading.
Realise that you are shaping minds A lot of teachers are under the impression that teaching is about making students learn facts, well it’s not. It’s about inspiring students to think for themselves and to asks questions rather than just parrot responses. You are really teaching students to have a love of knowledge, which will hopefully shape the way that they see the world and will stay with them for the rest of their lives. So rather than sticking rigidly to a lesson plan, try to be more creative by implementing more interactive activities. For example, get students to have discussions between themselves or have group activities where they have to solve the problem or find the answer to a question without your help. The new Thinking Dice is an ideal catalyst to start discussions flowing.
Think twice about giving students the answer When someone asks you a question it is very tempting to just give them an answer but in order to instil a love of knowledge in students you really should refrain. Instead, ask a student their opinion or ask them to express their view on how to discover the answer, etc. Obviously this approach is less appropriate for subjects like mathematics and yet for English, PHSE and even science it is perfect. Students need to realise that the question and having a desire to answer that question are much more important than discovering the right answer.
Right or wrong doesn’t matter One of the disheartening things about being a teacher is when you see a student that is afraid of getting the answer wrong, so they just don’t say anything. As our educational system and society is goal orientated you can understand why students come to think in this way, so as a teacher you need to make them realise that right or wrong don’t matter. Instead a student needs to appreciate that trying to discover the answer is a lot more important than getting the answer right. Effort is more important than attainment, as some of the most successful people in the world have overcome educational shortcomings by applying themselves and putting in the effort.
Learning needs to be subliminal If you adopt the right approach then you will find that you can teach without having to stand by the whiteboard reading from the text book. Often by setting a group activity, showing students a video or setting up a class experiment students can learn something new without realising that they are doing so. It is amazing that by making lessons interactive, dynamic and fresh you can subtly make students understand and remember facts in a way that you couldn’t with other teaching methods.
So if you’d like to be the passionate teacher that all your students remember many years from now then try to implement one, two or maybe all of the techniques above.
This is a guest blog by Tudor Davies who is a former psychology lecturer at Stoke College. He is currently working within the online marketing industry and is writing on behalf of Hardy Farm student residence in Manchester.