This morning when my dad gave me a ride to work (it was pouring outside), we had some chit chat while waiting in traffic. He was telling me about the start of the new university year and about the fact that he didn’t prepare anything for his courses with the students. I told him “Well, you still have some time left to put something nice together”. “Yep, or I could just go on with what I’ve taught until now, like many of my colleagues do”, he replied a little sarcastically. (My dad is a university teacher and has been putting his role into practice for more than 25 years.)
Sounds familiar? Whether you’re involved in the education sector as a teacher or not, we’ve all been there once, facing the routine, at least while being a student. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had several teachers during my Bachelor, who just came to class and talked about the same things over and over again, using the same old-fashioned dictation or slide projection. We all kept looking at the clock, hoping for that hour to pass, but sometimes it seemed like the time got stuck. They were bored, we were bored. Am I remembering those teachers now for providing me a unique perspective on their subject? Or for infusing me a thirst for their knowledge? Nope, I sure don’t.
The danger of sliding into an unproductive teaching routine shouldn’t be a new disclosure. Yet we bump into it from time to time, right? And it seems like no one can benefit of it, neither teachers, nor students. By falling into routine, teachers will lose their appetite for sharing their knowledge and their former passion for doing so will fade in time. As students generally have a well-developed criticism, they can sense boredom easily. And we all know it’s quite challenging to keep a student’s attention awake. Thus, I think we can all conclude that we have to keep/to bring back that spark in everybody’s eyes when talking about a school subject.
How can we do that?, you’re asking? It’s not so simple, you might say. Well, we won’t say you don’t need to lay down some more effort compared to sticking to a routine. But we think that effort is worth it.
The basic solution for diversifying your teaching is by taking advantage of new tools from the education field. And since we’re in the 2.0 era (even 3.0), you’ll find a lot of those tools online. We’ve already shared some info about a bunch of great tools like Teachers pay Teachers, Quizlet or Creaza. Of course we don’t forget about the great value an education quiz and other special education data collection forms can add to your portfolio. Don’t underestimate the power, utility and attractiveness of, let’s say, a Beginning of the Year Student Questionnaire, a Career Path Survey, a Cornell Notes Form, a Grade Book Form or a Student Quiz. They can all add that fling! to your everyday teaching and your students will appreciate the effort, naming you a great teacher who isn’t afraid to incorporate new technology in school life.
If you’re not so into online tools and still prefer the good old offline medium, there are some ideas for keeping teaching appealing. Activities you can employ in classroom are role-play, field trips, contests between students, debates, quizzes, pantomime, group work, guest speaking, Round Robin, interviewing, brainstorming, mental imagery, experimenting, simulations or modeling. And, of course, there’s still the option of combining offline & online methods to maximize their effect.
What do you think about this matter? Have you ever been confronted with a routine situation? Feel free to share in the comments section below.
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