Have you heard this from your students? This is probably among the most painful things you can hear from your students.
It does not help much if you have mastery over your subject matter but can’t make it interesting and relevant to your students.
In this technological and distracted age, the attention span of people has reduced drastically. I came across this research finding recently that we only have an attention span of 9 seconds! Can you imagine? You only have 9 seconds to hook their attention or else it goes to something or someone else.
Mastery + Engagement = Learning
I was at the Manila International Book fair recently and I got hold of this small and interesting book by Father Joseph V. Landy, S.J. The title is Letters to a Young Teacher: The Art of being Interesting.
I would like to share his 5 tools on how to become an interesting teacher.
The first tool is ACTIVITY. This means being active in class and moving around instead of getting stuck behind your desk as you read out something or give instructions.
Be part of the class instead of making an wall between your desk and their seats.
Here your skills in questioning will be put to the test. Stay lively and your class will liven up also.
The second tool to tap into is REALITY. This means making your subject matter as realistic as possible. Bring concrete things related to your subject matter in the classroom.
Share personal anecdotes that relate to the topic. Engage them by asking your students to share their related experiences about your subject matter.
We learn things better when it has meaning for us. Learning is essentially making meaning out of things.
The third tool you can use is HUMOR. Funny teachers always stand out in the minds of students. Of course, your humor should be relevant to your subject matter.
However, let this not get out of hand. It should not undermine discipline in discipline. Father Landy cautions us, “Once a teacher loses control of a class, there is no regaining it. The game is over.“
Another thing to remember is not to make jokes at the expense of a student’s feelings. Sarcasm should never be your kind of humor in the classroom.
The power of humor is that it breaks down defense of the students. They are more inclined to relax and this results to better discussions and thinking as fear do not block their creative thinking.
The next trick in your INTERESTING bag is NOVELTY.
Here, variety is the name of the game. Make yourself unpredictable. Father Landy tells us: “Never give the students the impression you are in a rut.” So therefore do not get into a rut in the first place.
Keep an idea notebook to write down interesting activities that you can do in the classroom. Shake things up. See your subject matter from another angle or set of eyes and you will see many possibilities to make it interesting.
Finally, your most potent tool in being interesting: Your VOICE.
You live by your voice. You would rather lose something else, but not your voice as your career largely depends on it.
This means you have to master your voice. Your voice should be loud enough to be heard by all the students.
Speak clearly and distinctly.
Saying “ERR” or “UMMMM” in every statement is a crime because it is irritating to hear.
Vary your voice. This means varying your tone and pace.
Don’t make them sleep with a monotonous voice.
Slow down and say the phrases carefully if you want to emphasize something.
Good speakers know that raising the power of a voice can stress the importance of something but so can a decrease in the power.
Something like a half-whisper or “stage whisper” to emphasize something.
There you have it. 5 powerful tools to help you become an interesting teacher
Your turn, what are some of the strategies you have used to become an interesting teacher in your class? Share them in the comments below.
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