My Strategies for Effective Teaching
I’ve been teaching part-time for over a year now and I can tell you it’s no easy feat. I’ve seen my share of ups and downs, of not-so-bright students and bright students, of talkative students and really quite ones. I’ve also had my share of students with high grades and those students who are happy with passing grades. Fortunately, I survived and I still continued my work.
When I first started teaching, I read up on what kind of techniques I can use to make sure I become an effective teacher. I am not saying I became one (I'm still far from becoming an effective teacher) but I think by applying the following strategies, I'm slowly but surely getting there.
Establish Rules...and Stick to Them
What??? Rules...this is a free country, man! Yeah right. Sit down, young man! LOL. Seriously though, establishing rules early on (as in the first day of class) sets the tone for the rest of the school year or semester. Keep them simple, use simple languages and explain them clearly, so that the students will know what to expect from you. Believe me, they will really appreciate you laying your cards on the table from the start of their classes.
The other side of the coin is that when rules are established, the teacher should stick to them. Do not deviate or the students will know that you are not really that serious in following your own rules.
There are times when I hate looking at my students because I see some of them nodding off (see, I know I'm not yet an effective teacher). But I try to maintain eye contact whenever I explain things to them. It makes it easier for me to see their reactions and their thoughts. Besides, if they know that you can see them, the students will really strive to fight off their sleepiness and concentrate on what you are saying.
Believe me, my subjects can sometimes get boring. They're full of concepts, theories, terms, etc., etc. that sometimes even I get bored when I discuss them. To fight the boredom, I sometimes lighten up the mood by giving short jokes or telling them stories or getting the students to give their personal experiences on the subject. Also, since my subject has to do with business, I give them news and tidbits about the goings on in the business world, both local and international. It gets my students interested enough to hear more about the topic.
Slowly But Surely
This has more to do with the phasing of my discussion. I make sure that I don't load my students to the point that their brains cannot take in anything more. Even if I end up not discussing a lot of things within the alloted time, this is okay with me as long as I know that they managed to learn more than if I bombarded them with a lot of information. Also, try to vary the method of teaching. The first 30 minutes, discuss. The next 30 minutes, copy from the next day's notes, etc., etc. This will break off the monotony and will also give me time to catch my breath and rest my (poor) feet.
Students as Teachers
This one I tried during the last six months and I can say it made my students learn more. Have the students become the teacher in one session by assigning them one topic that they can discuss during this session. Give them the materials but let them decide how they want to impart the materials to their classmates. Better yet, give them the freedom to do whatever they want during the session (i.e., surprise quiz from the last lecture) so that they can practice being flexible. A lot of my students have welcomed this because they get to see my notes firsthand and, at the same time, they get to practice public speaking.
Give Feedback Firmly and Immediately
Whenever I give examinations and tests, I make sure that I immediately check and return my students' papers so that they'll know if they did good or not. I also provide interim grades like within a week or two right after the major exam. If there's a presentation, I make sure that the presentors know what I like or dislike about their presentation (sometimes I can be harsh I think this is necessary so that they'll always remember what I said). This way they're not in the dark if they did something right or wrong during their presentation.
That's it for me. These are generally the techniques I used to become a more effective teacher. There are a lot more techniques or strategies out there and I'm sure any teacher can find one or more strategies that fit his / her teaching style and the educational needs of the students. One thing I have learned this past year is that this job is not really easy. It takes a very patient and wise person to want to continue working in this profession. I just hope I can stick it out until the day somebody tells me - "you're now an effective teacher!".
(Note: This is my tenth hub, yey! Hope I can write more hubs in the future.)