Be a teacher they said, it will be fun they said… When it comes to this time of the year there is no other human being on planet Earth that personifies the term ‘exhaustion’ more than a teacher. Not only has the year, marking and emotional ups and downs taken its toll, the ongoing competition between teachers and cellphones and tablets in the classroom is the pinnacle of frustration. How on earth do we keep our learners engaged in the classroom if WhatsApp, YouTube, SnapChat and Facebook is constantly ten steps ahead of us and of course a lot more interesting?
The majority of the youth of today seem to treat school days like a prison sentence. A recent poll found that the top two words learners most associate with school are “bored” and “tired,”. With schedules that are often packed with difficult classes, homework, and extracurricular activities, learners likely find sitting in a desk for hours a day to be pretty low on the excitement scale, so of course they will rather engage with their digital world at their fingertips, than listening to monotonous recitals from a textbook.
Here’s how you can win in your own classroom.
Participate and engage with your learners
Just because the teacher is in the front of the room doesn’t mean there isn’t anything they can learn from their learners. Rather than being Hitler in your classroom, teachers can participate in projects, share their own experiences and interests and get to know their students’ interests.
Make explanations clear and don’t talk too fast!
Learners report that one of the top reasons they attend class and one of the top instructor behaviours to hold their attention is the pacing of the teacher’s explanations. There is no reason to dumb things down, the youth is a lot smarter than you think, but make sure you explain clearly what you expect of them and stick to a slower pace of speaking. Learners can’t necessarily process as fast as they can WhatsApp.
Find your sense of humour
There is nothing more frustrating and utterly boring than a teacher standing in front of a class sounding like they are conducting someone’s eulogy. Try to make your classes lively and entertaining and use good presentation practices to avoid a monotone delivery.
Use multiple teaching methods in most classes
Lecturing has its place, but a change is as good as a holiday. Mix it up – use discussion, group work, interactive activities and of course digital elements to keep your learners interested. The bonus: if they are engaged, they text less!
When we start making a concerted effort to engage learners in their actual learning, the result you’ll discover is learners who are better able to maintain focus, better able to sustain behaviour and better able to grasp and retain the material you are working so hard to convey! Make sure you come out on top of that podium in the race against technology!