Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the state of essay writing in our school curriculum. Essays have been one of the traditional assessment tools for many years now. But there has been a steady decline in students’ interest when it comes to writing essays. With more and more emphasis on ed-tech and new-age learning techniques, some educators might feel that essays as an assessment tool are becoming obsolete. Continue reading “Is It Time To Bid Farewell To Essay Writing As An Assessment Tool?”
Being a teacher is a tough job. Handling kids in the classroom, planning lessons, preparing tests, correcting test papers, attending parent-teacher meetings and teacher conferences while trying to cover the vast syllabus prescribed for the academic year…Phew! Things can become a tad bit overwhelming. Continue reading “The Art of Constructive Criticism”
Monotony is one of the biggest reasons why students feel bored or demotivated in the class. Why? Imagine the daily routine of average grown-ups. We cringe and whine about our jobs throughout the week starting from Monday, all the way till Friday evening. That weekend feeling keeps us motivated. The different things that we plan to do during those 2 days with our loved ones motivate till the clock strikes 6 on a Sunday evening.
(P.S. I’m that grown-up who loves Mondays. Because I love my job and the different teaching methods that I apply with my students)
It’s the same with children. But unlike the grown-ups, children can have an option to change this situation. It’s the school’s responsibility to take out the monotony from the classrooms and make the lessons interesting for students.
What can teachers do?
We teachers can do a lot to change the way the lessons are taught in the classroom. It’s up to us and a little interest from our side to make learning interesting.
Children spend most of their time browsing the internet and with their smartphones. So the best way to appeal to them is to do things their way. The source of entertainment is unlimited and that’s what appeals to them. So Use mobile apps and games that they can enjoy using in the classroom.
For example, I use word games to engage my students. There are apps like Cram that let you create flashcards and your own version of their inbuilt word games.
Make the lessons visual
As I said before, things that stick to your mind firmly are the ones that appeal to you visually. Start using visual aids effectively in the classroom. Diagrams, videos, colorful charts, or even movies that explain the topics well. They all help solidify the understanding of the concepts whilst making them interesting.
Create a stimulating environment
Children spend more time in the classroom than they do at home (not literally). If you want them to love coming in every day, make their space attractive. use posters, models, student projects and seasonal themes to decorate your classroom, and create a warm, stimulating environment.
I agree that you can’t always be exciting but maybe you can do it once a week. We as teachers are responsible not only for completing the syllabus but also to understand our students, nurture their minds and keep them motivated throughout the lessons.
It’s a challenge that in turn, motivates me to up my game and keep learning.
Setting goals or rather setting realistic goals contributes a major part in motivating students to do more. They begin to show interest in what they do and start to believe that things can be done if only you focus and work on it.
How I set realistic goals?
Realistic goals can be anything. It can be solving a simple question paper, reading an online blog and writing their interpretation, making a PPT, or even just coming up with an idea for a fun classroom quiz.
As a teacher, you must know and understand your class and your students’ abilities. Accordingly, you must set timelines to complete each task that you give them.
Pairing and teaming
Every class has a set of students who are academically brilliant and another set who are not so brilliant and take time to understand the lessons. We have to make pairs and teams of students who can help each other complete the task.
This gives a chance for the brilliant kids to teach and the not so brilliant kids to learn their ways of studying.
There’s ought to be a best project or task. Use it as a benchmark for the rest of the class without belittling other students. A simple “Good job Bryan” should do it.
SMART Goals for classroom
The Goals which you set should be SMART. That a marketing abbreviation for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely.
SMART goals can be something Specific to train a particular skill, Measurable where you can see and rate the performance and improvement. Attainable as the task be something that the students can finish with simple guidance, Relevant meaning the task should be Relevant to your class and subject, and Timely for the tasks to finish within a particular time limit.
By practicing this method, we can see that the students slowly get independent, efficient, focused, and motivated. Once you notice the students performing well, you can gradually raise the level of difficulty for each task.
So start simple, notice the change, and gradually, raise the bar.
AS an ESL tutor, my very first suggestion (that greatly worked for me) would be to set up a personal classroom blog for your students.
How does it motivate students? I’ll get to that in a minute. But before that, let’s get over the technical part. Setting up a blog.
Today, that’s nothing easier than setting up your own blog. There are so, so many platforms where you can get your own little place on the web. WordPress, Tumblr, Edublogs, etc. give you options to host and personalize your blog for free without having to write a single line of code.
Once you’re done setting up the blog, you’re good to go.
How does it motivate the students?
So it’s obvious that the best way to reach your students will be when they are online. People love being a part of a community. They want to be seen, want to be heard, and want to voice their thoughts.
A classroom blog does just that. But for your blog to be effective, you must make it engaging with content that would bring your students to the blog, contribute and share their thoughts.
Post your class discussions on the blog, invite students to share their learnings, what they understood, what they didn’t what they’d like to be changed, etc.
How I did it
I set up a students blog on Edublogs 5 days into my teaching career. I invited my students to subscribe to the blog for updates. They hesitated initially but did it just to play along. I was happy to get them aboard and it was now up to me to make them come in and stay.
I started posting the lessons with some humor and youtube videos. I opened the comments section for the students to engage and sat back with my fingers crossed. To my surprise, students did exactly what I planned. They were motivated to share. They were motivated to speak up, ask questions, answers other students, and post suggestions.
The next morning, I woke up and was thrilled by their interaction. I got some useful insights that I then incorporated in my future lessons.
This slowly became our routine and I’d hang out with my students almost every day even after going home.
This is the power of the internet. #MyStudentMotivation
We, teachers, love teaching. We really do. Teaching is what gets us to wake up motivated and go to bed satisfied. The best part about teaching is that you keep learning and the fun of working with the young minds gives us the much-needed rush.
But it’s not always fun when your students are not as involved in learning as you are in teaching. It’s definitely not motivating to look at students scattered around in the class with equally scattered thoughts, staring back at the board wishing they were somewhere else. It breaks you as a teacher.
When you’re done picking up your broken pieces, the first thought that plays inside your head is “Am I a bad teacher?” Nope. Not even going there. I tell myself that I’m a great teacher. With that note, I sit down to analyze the real problem.
Lack of motivation and how to fix it?
Students are not always motivated to study. There are very few who enjoy learning something new. Most of the kids perceive learning as a task that they have to do or are forced to do. We can totally relate to that right? We too were students at one point and wished for studying to be interesting.
Now as the tables have turned and since we are officially responsible for teaching the students, why not make our classes more interesting? Why don’t we get the students motivated and excited about learning?
After a lot of research, reading through blogs, talking to my students, ex-students, the parents, I’ve built some strategies to make learning fun for my students. I’ve tried them in my class and seen positive results.
I’m starting a weekly series of articles where I will share my methods of motivating students in the classroom. I’m positive that it will be helpful for teachers who want to make their classes interactive, and exciting for students.