As a teacher, you know there are certain teaching styles that are essential to a harmonious classroom. Whether you teach elementary school or high school, you will have to adapt your teaching style to your individual students, based on their abilities and strengths. Every class has its own personalities and dynamics. However, there are certain elements that are proven to help students learn better and to improve harmony in the classroom. The following are six elements to be included in every classroom.
Having your students work together whenever possible fosters a sense of community and collaboration. It gives the weaker students an opportunity to learn from the stronger students in a given subject. The stronger students will also learn patience and the opportunity to work with others. Collaboration also provides an opportunity for learning about teamwork. In biology class, put the kids together in pairs to use equipment such as a new biological compound microscope. They can work and learn together to provide results to you. Studies have shown that students who reteach content that has been taught to them learn better. Collaboration will encourage the students to teach one another, therefore learning more effectively.
2. Open Communication
Foster a sense of open communication within your class, where students are encouraged to share their opinions on a variety of subjects. Listen actively, call on children who don’t get a chance to raise their hands and encourage their fellow classmates to listen as well. Make sure you take time to work with students who are struggling. Make sure they know you are available whenever they need help or have questions. In addition, make sure you maintain open communication with the children’s parents. For elementary students, send a newsletter home with what is happening in the classroom. For middle and high school, you can send an email to parents introducing yourself. You can also make sure to be available during parent-teacher conferences.
Interacting with your students is essential, because it gives you a greater sense of what they know and how they best learn. Encourage students to interact with their peers regarding hot topics you’re currently teaching, for example. Get the kids actively involved in discussions so that they retain the information better. A famous teaching method encouraging interaction is Direct Instruction. This method has teachers teach material and then has the students repeat the key information back. This method requires the attention of the students and also helps them learn more effectively.
Encourage participation at all levels of a discussion. Pair up kids in groups, have them brainstorm ideas, then report their findings back to you. Discuss as a whole class and accept back-and-forth viewpoints on the matter at hand for a broad coverage of the subject. Encouraging students is also key to academic success. If a student feels as if the teacher does not believe in him, he is a lot less likely to put forth as much effort as he would if he felt the teacher thought he could succeed. Especially with a struggling student, it is crucial for a teacher to encourage the student that “He can do it!”.
Review all information at the end of the time period. Go over pertinent points, highlight what’s important for future tests, and ask the students if they have any questions. This review period can help not only the students with going over the new information, but it can also help you determine which points they understand and which points you need to spend a bit more time on. More timid students may be afraid to ask direct questions, so make sure to observe the classroom and look for anyone who seems lost. Another idea to help with a review would be to give them a short review sheet with questions you could have on a test. Make sure you provide time for them to answer the questions. Providing them with answers after they have had time to work on it will help them know what they need to work on. For math, you could provide math problems, for history and science you could ask questions about content you have covered.
Ask for feedback on your teaching methods. Halfway through a lesson, ask “are you all getting this”? make sure the kids understand where you’re going with a particular lesson and check in often. You don’t want to forge ahead only to have the kids question you later. Offer question and answer sessions frequently to gauge what they understand. Obviously testing is a way to get feedback as well. However, remember that if the student did not understand the content in the first place, he or she will not do well on the test.
Kandace Heller is a freelance writer from Orlando, Florida. She especially enjoys writing about health and fashion, but will write about just about anything. Kandace is a University of Florida and a Gator fan. She loves the sun and going to the beach.