While it’s nice to think that every student comes to school eager to learn, that’s simply not the case. Any teacher or parent knows this. The good news is that there are things teachers can do to foster a true learning environment. Even better, the more conducive to learning your classroom is, the fewer discipline problems you’ll have. Here are the top three practices to implement this week.
1. Use collaboration: Competition improves performance, not learning. Yes, some students will practice for hours spurred on by the competitive spirit—be it in music, athletics, or performing arts. But these students are motivated to compete. And competition can be fun for short periods, but competing with others is devastating for the youngster who never finds himself/herself in the winner’s circle. Rather than compete, the student drops out by giving up.
Every time a teacher asks a question of a group, students are competing for the teacher’s attention—and usually only one student wins. A better approach is to establish learning buddies. Even a very shy student will share with one other person. So instead of asking a question, pose the question. Asking implies a correct answer, whereas posing invites thinking. Have students discuss the answer with each other. Using this approach, every student participates.
2. Get yourself excited: You shouldn’t expect others to get excited about what you are teaching if you are not excited about it yourself. Show your enthusiasm for the lesson. When lecturing, use just a little more enthusiasm than when you are conversing, facilitating, or reviewing.
3. Intensify interpersonal relationships: Connecting with your students on a one-on-one basis is extremely valuable, but helping them connect with one another on a one-on-one basis can be even more valuable. Give students an opportunity to socialize for short periods before learning activities start. Establishing relationships are extremely important to young people.